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Ohio Voters Agree on Repeal of House Bill 6

Most Ohio voters polled said they support a repeal of controversial energy-bailout legislation that passed last year. (Adobe Stock)
Most Ohio voters polled said they support a repeal of controversial energy-bailout legislation that passed last year. (Adobe Stock)
August 31, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- During these highly polarized times, one thing Ohioans on both sides of the aisle seem to agree on is the repeal of House Bill 6.

Just over a month ago, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were arrested in a $60 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to passage of the 2019 bill. Miranda Leppla, vice president of energy policy at the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, said HB 6 gutted the state's clean-energy and efficiency standards, and provided a $1.3 billion nuclear and coal bailout.

"It needs to be repealed now, and we need to have an honest conversation, without bribery allegations, about what Ohioans need for an energy future," Leppla said.

A recent poll found 64% of Ohio voters oppose HB 6 and want it repealed. Tyler Duvelius, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, said anything short of that isn't justice.

"We couldn't agree more with Senate President Larry Obhof when he said it's time for us just to rip it up and start over again," Duvelius said.

There are rumors that legislators in both House and Senate will possibly act on legislation - HB 738 and SB 346 - to repeal HB 6 this week.

The two state senators whose districts are home to the two nuclear-power plants that would receive the subsidies argue an outright repeal is drastic and unnecessary.

The plants were formerly operated by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, and the company says it receives no revenue from their operations or the funding provided by HB 6.

However, Leppla says a majority of voters polled support an investigation of FirstEnergy.

"There was no indication as part of the bill process that the funds were actually needed to support those plants," Leppla said. "So, we've yet to see any documentation that they actually needed the bailout from customers to stay open."

Duvelius contends lawmakers need to move quickly to protect consumers.

"If we don't move quickly, then starting January 1, Ohio ratepayers are going to have to start paying for this really bad legislation," Duvelius said. "We're going to lose energy efficiency, we're going to have to start paying for a nuclear bailout. That's just not fair to the Ohio ratepayer."

Seven-in-10 voters polled said they would likely sign a petition to place HB 6 on the ballot for repeal if the Legislature doesn't act.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH