Photo credit: twitter user @JeremyCronig

Tuesday morning, an article went up on the Columbus Dispatch website about plans by “hundreds of high school students” to descend on the Statehouse Wednesday to lobby for stricter gun laws. Tuesday night, Senate leadership abruptly cancelled a planned Senate session so members could get out of dodge. The House had already pulled down its planned session for Wednesday, leaving students with two empty chambers.

Courtesy: Gongwer News Service

Students were, understandably, unhappy.

From today’s Gongwer Report:

“I’m deeply disappointed by the Ohio Senate leadership’s decision to cancel today’s session after learning of our plan to attend and experience as students and constituents what goes on in our Statehouse. If our elected officials cannot even take the time to start a dialogue, how can we begin to solve the issue of gun violence?” [Cincinnati student Micah Kraus] said.

Session was canceled because President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) is under the weather, his spokesman John Fortney said.

So… about that. Why shut the chamber down just because the Senate President is out sick? There is literally a position in Senate leadership entitled “Senate President Pro Tempore” where pro tempore is a latin term meaning “for a time.” In other words, it’s the President Pro Tem’s job description to fill in for the President “for a time,” chairing Senate sessions in his or her absence. It even says so right here on the Majority Leadership web page:

Why wasn’t Bob Peterson allowed to do his job presiding over session in Obhof’s absence today? It’s worth asking because taking on the very responsibility of running things when the President is away earns Peterson a $25,581 pay supplement. Sseriously. From the Legislative Services Commission handbook for lawmakers:

Why are the taxpayers giving Senator Peterson nearly the equivalent of the annual earnings of the median Ohio worker if we’re not going to let him do his job?

Or is the real answer that Republican Senators didn’t want to be seen on camera or viral video having uncomfortable conversations with children upset at the terrible job they’re doing enacting sensible policies to reduce gun violence?

Speaking of those photos and videos, the kids themselves were highly impressive and should get the spotlight today, not snowflake lawmakers. Here are some highlights of their visit:

Walnut Hills student, Matt Youkilis, who lost his cousin in the Parkland shooting speaks with State Senator, Democrat Cecil Thomas. (Photo credit: @bhamrick_wlwt)

It wasn’t all Democrats, at least according to reporters:

But the Republicans they met with must be camera-shy. None of the photos shared by the group organizing the event (find them on twitter at @LAST_OH14) featured any GOP lawmakers, and not one of the Republican lawmakers listed by Balmert posted a photo of themselves with the kids on their social media. And, to put it mildly, politicians are typically not shy about posting photos of themselves meeting with constituents. Here’s Steve Wilson tweeting about his visit with the always fun Ohio Land Title Association:

Most of Joe Uecker’s Facebook feed is just glamour shots posing with random people who drop by his Columbus office:

Strange that Paul Zeltwanger went radio silent about his meeting with students, but had the time to post a letter to his Facebook page urging students not to walk out but instead to be nicer to fellow classmates so they won’t shoot them. No, really, he did:

If you’ve read this far, you probably really do care about the safety of your school. Don’t trust that walking out of school will bring an answer. Gun control or more laws is not, and will not, be the answer. You are the answer. Your greeting, your smile, your gentle human touch is the only thing that can change the world of a desperate classmate who may be contemplating something as horrendous as a school shooting. Look past yourself and look past your phone and look into the eyes of a student who no one else sees. 

We’re so impressed by these students and disappointed but not really surprised by the reception they got from Statehouse Republicans. It’s an important lesson to the next generation of voters. If your elected officials don’t care enough to listen to you and would prefer to belittle you on social media than pose for a photo, they aren’t there to represent you. It’s time to #VoteThemOut.

Well done students. Less great, adults.

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