Ohio State Representatives Seek Constitutional Amendment to Protect Infrastructure from Foreign Ownership


Ohio State Reps. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Don Manning (R-New Middletown) are sponsoring legislation to amend the state’s constitution that would ask voters to decide on a plan they say would protect infrastructure from being mostly foreign-owned.

The representatives hope to place the Ohio Critical Infrastructure Protection Amendment on the November 2020 ballot for a referendum, Callender said in a statement available here.

Statehouse News Bureau said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has spoken against such a restriction.

“We always want to be careful. We always want to be aware of what’s going on and keep our eyes open. But we encourage foreign investment in a lot of things,” said DeWine, adding that his recent trade trip to Japan and other places have been made in order to create more jobs.

The proposed ban on foreign-majority ownership came about following ongoing efforts by some to repeal House Bill 6 through an informal petition, Statehouse News Bureau said.

Clevleand.com ran a story Friday casting doubt on the repeal effort’s prospects and accusing unnamed dark money providers of backing the effort to amend the controversial House Bill 6. The story is available here.

The story says House Bill 6 bailed out two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions and that the repeal effort is in trouble after it failed to meet a deadline for the submission of signatures.

U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus ruled last week against a request by the House Bill 6 referendum campaign for more time to collect signatures, the Dayton Daily News reported. The judge said it is a matter for the Ohio Supreme Court.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is involved in the campaign to repeal House Bill 6, The Ohio Star reported. 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.

Callender has said his work on the amendment would continue even if the legal effort against House Bill 6 stalled. He said that the amendment is needed.

“We are troubled by the growing trend of foreign entities acquiring or financing some of our country’s most critical infrastructure – the power plants, electric transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, and water treatment plants that are vital to the welfare and safety of Ohioans,” said Callender in his statement.

Last week, supporters turned in nearly 850,000 signatures backing the proposal, Callender said. A statewide poll found 79 percent of Ohioans surveyed believed foreign companies and individuals should be banned from having majority ownership of critical infrastructure in Ohio.

A report to Congress by the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission has noted the Communist Party of China has used state-backed enterprises as the primary economic tool to advance and achieve its national security objectives, Callender said.

The amendment would prohibit foreign businesses and individuals from having a majority ownership interest in critical infrastructure in Ohio, including power plants, intrastate electric transmission lines and pipelines, and water treatment plants.

Additional restrictions would bar foreigners from holding ownership when they would gain access to critical information on infrastructure, Callender said.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.






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