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Ohio lawmakers meet in push toward more civility

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — About a dozen state lawmakers from both major parties have met behind closed doors at the Ohio Statehouse in an effort to foster more civility in the sometimes abrasive business of legislating.

Republican Sen. Frank LaRose of Copley Township called the Tuesday meeting, attended by six Republicans and five Democrats, about how to improve discourse at the Legislature and tone down nasty rhetoric.

"You can still be an ardent supporter of a particular policy stance without being mean-spirited, or personal or negative or unfair in how you characterize each other's views," LaRose said, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

The group agreed to take steps including arranging for lawmakers from different parties to visit each other's constituents to better understand other perspectives. For example, a Republican from a rural district and a Democrat from an urban district might travel to each other's areas.

Other possible steps include talking about civility with new lawmakers and increasing opportunities for social interaction among lawmakers.

One attendee, Democratic Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent, said that there is "a real problem in how conversations take place" among elected officials, which can create an intimidating environment.

"I think you see a lot of debates that, to the average citizen, sound too extreme. I think you see a lot of legislation and laws being passed that are too extreme," she said, according to The Columbus Dispatch. "That's a byproduct of a lack of civility and working together."

LaRose said the steps won't solve the problem, but could be a starting point.

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