Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts wants to repeal House Bill 6. They are using the petition for referendum option in Ohio’s Constitution to try to place the bill on the ballot so Ohio voters can decide for themselves if they want the so-called nuclear bailout. The referendum language was submitted to Attorney General Dave Yost’s office on July 29, but their summary was rejected on Aug. 12.
The organization, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, formed in late July after HB 6 was signed into law. The group came together because they believe, according to spokesman Gene Pierce, “it is inherently unfair to make consumers pay a $1.4 billion bailout to go to a utility industry bailout and simultaneously gut Ohio’s renewable energy standards. There are incentives for utilities to use green energy which are traditionally less polluting and more sustainable, and the bill guts those incentives.”
Pierce talked with The Ohio Star about their plans going forward now that the petition was rejected.
“The AG has the legal obligation to review petition language to make sure it is ‘fair and truthful’ and his office reviewed our petition language and found several places where they thought our language did not meet that criteria. They gave us a list of those items and we are in the process of redrafting the petition and we will be resubmitting it to the AG for review,” he said.
According to the letter AG Yost sent to the group’s treasurer, Brandon Lynaugh, Yost rejected their summary of the petition for failing to meet the “fair and truthful” standard in Ohio Revised Code Section 3519.01(B)(3) in twenty-one areas. Yost listed the separate items that he does not believe meet the criteria in the law. He wrote, “I have identified numerous instances where the Summary is either inaccurate or contains material omissions of the statutory language.”
Because of the rejection Pierce said, “We have missed the deadline for the spring primary, so we’re aiming for November 2020. It was already too late for this fall’s election. We have until Oct. 21 to collect the 265,744 signatures needed to access the ballot. The Constitution gives us 90 days after the passage of a bill to collect signatures for a referendum.”
The Constitution also specifies the required number of signatures needed, which is six percent of the vote from the last gubernatorial election. The organization has done the math and came up with the 265,744 number.
Pierce has been involved in Ohio politics since 1976. He was a public relations expert for the Coalition for Choice in Electricity back in the 1990s for deregulation. Then he worked with the Alliance for Real Energy Options in the early 2000s.
“We want to repeal the bill in its entirety, especially the billion dollar bailout to a specific corporation. The $1.4 billion is between $150 and $170 million a year to pay for the two electricity generating nuclear power plants on Lake Erie,” Pierce said. “First Energy Solutions (FES) says they need the money to keep them operating. When the legislators asked to see the books to see if they’re actually losing money, they have refused. So they’re asking us to trust them with a blank check.”
“We don’t believe it’s the role of government to pick winners and losers in the market place,” Pierce told The Ohio Star. “FES is asking us to make them a winner, even when they haven’t been able to cut it in the economic market place.”
– – –