- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio’s House speaker is seizing the power of social media to promote a task that’s typically affiliated with the governor: signing bills.

Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger recently appeared in photos posted online with a bill before him and a collection of fine-point Sharpies to his right. He’s flanked by several state representatives and staffers from an anti-abortion group getting an up-close view of his signing legislation to divert government money from Planned Parenthood.

Such a scene with lawmakers and bill supporters is common, and often open to press, for major bills signed into law by the governor.

But since taking the top House post last January, Rosenberger is putting his own imprint on the job. In a shift from previous House speakers, he’s holding events - in private - for what’s typically been pro-forma signings by legislative leaders.

Bills passed by the General Assembly are signed by the House speaker and Senate president before the governor gives the final signature.

Senate President Keith Faber does not hold signing events. The Celina Republican “has always just signed bills awaiting his signature,” said Faber spokesman John Fortney.

With Republican Gov. John Kasich on the presidential campaign trail, Rosenberger’s recent ceremonial signings seem to be filling a photo-op void.

Pictures of the speaker smiling, signing and hand-shaking over bills are posted to Rosenberger’s social media pages and GOP caucus accounts. Representatives and advocates also can use photos on Twitter, Facebook and other places online.

Most of the roughly dozen bills ceremonially signed by Rosenberger have come after Kasich announced his White House bid this summer.

The House speaker’s office typically notifies the bills’ sponsors when Rosenberger will sign their legislation and asks if they want to attend, said House Republican spokesman Brad Miller.

Such photo-worthy signings are set depending on interest and availability.

“Sometimes I do it ceremonially to help the members out to do an event. Or sometimes I sign it as soon as they can get it to me,” Rosenberger, of Clarksville, told reporters earlier this month.

Many of the ceremoniously signed bills are pretty mundane. A couple aim to raise awareness for causes. Another provides conformity between Ohio and federal tax codes. Oftentimes, attendees are staff and the bill sponsors. Occasionally, participants include key backers of the bills.

One signing earlier this month was higher profile.

The speaker’s office invited Ohio Right to Life to the signing of legislation stripping Planned Parenthood of public money. The organization’s staff attended, along with the executive director’s family, said Mike Gonidakis, the anti-abortion group’s president. The two bill sponsors and two other representatives also took part.

Pictures were posted on the group’s social media accounts and on those of Rosenberger and the GOP caucus.

State Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl said she welcomed the chance to see Rosenberger sign her bill designating a “Service Dog Awareness Week.” Ruhl, a Mount Vernon Republican, invited two service dogs and their handlers to join her at the Statehouse event.

“It gives them kind of a closure that all their hard work wasn’t for naught,” Ruhl said. “I think a lot of them understand the governor’s schedule is very crazy right now.”


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