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Ohio House seeking to end energy bill

Local representative O’Brien is among group hoping to repeal HB 6 on Tuesday

WARREN — State Reps. Michael J. O’Brien and Michael Skindell will try to push the Ohio House to vote Tuesday to repeal the controversial House Bill 6 that bailed out two failed nuclear power plants and is at the heart of a federal political corruption case.

O’Brien, D-Warren, said he and Skindell, D-Lakewood, will try a “rarely used tool” — called a discharged petition — to bypass committee hearings on their legislation to repeal HB 6 and bring it to the House floor for a vote. The petition is permitted under House rules if a bill hasn’t been assigned to a committee at least 30 days after it was introduced, he said.

This bill was proposed July 29 and hasn’t been given a committee assignment.

The effort though needs the signatures of at least 50 of the House’s 99 members to get on the floor of the legislative body for a vote. There are 52 Republicans and 37 Democrats in the House.

O’Brien said he and Skindell are seeking to get support through electronic signatures, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, by Monday and have a vote taken Tuesday. Tuesday is the first day the House will be in session since the bill was proposed.

“There’s hardly any additional debate needed on the issues,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully we’ll receive enough signatures. Republicans have a similar bill. There’s enough collective thought to repeal.”

Former House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four associates — including former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges — were arrested on federal racketeering charges in a $60 million bribery case related to the taxpayer-funded bailout of two nuclear power plants near Cleveland and Toledo through HB 6.

Householder was a driving force behind the rescue, pushing through a plan to subsidize the plants and eliminate renewable energy incentives.

The bill provided a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout of the plants owned by former subsidies of FirstEnergy Corp. last year.

The rescue adds a new fee to every electricity bill in the state from 2021 to 2027 for the two plants.

Several Republicans — including those who voted for the bill — support a repeal.

“It’s widely known that corruption was involved with House Bill 6,” O’Brien said. “When corruption is revealed, we need to act quickly. We feel House Bill 6 should be repealed immediately. We’ve been hearing from constituents on this issue requiring immediate attention.”

There’s a similar bill in the Senate co-sponsored by state Sens. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, and Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard.

Sean O’Brien said he spoke to Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, who plans to refer it to a committee, most likely Energy and Public Utilities, with sponsor testimony occurring this week.

Obhof “wants a straight repeal,” O’Brien said. “I think it will go pretty quickly. He said it would be done by election time.”

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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