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HB6 Sponsor Now Seeking Ban On Certain Foreign Investments

Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) accepts more than 800,000 signatures for an informal petition calling for Ohio to ban foreign investments in energy generation.
Andy Chow
Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) accepts more than 800,000 signatures for an informal petition calling for Ohio to ban foreign investments in energy generation.

Republican House members are sponsoring a resolution that would prohibit foreign businesses and individuals from having a majority ownership in things like power plants, power lines, pipelines, and water.

The Ohio Critical Infrastructure Protection Amendment would have to be approved by voters.

The sponsors, Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Rep. Don Manning (R-New Middletown), would like to put the issue on the November 2020 ballot.

"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 a written statement.

The proposed constitutional amendment is the result of an informal petition that was circulated to counteract an official petition that sought to hold a referendum on the nuclear bailout law, created through HB6.

A dark money organization paid for people to circulate this informal petition which called for a ban on foreign companies from investing in energy generation.

Gov. Mike DeWine said he would not be for such a ban.  

"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.

DeWine has not commented on the issue since the official resolution has been introduced, which now specifically states that it would ban foreign investment from majority ownership.

Callender has said that a Chinese bank's investment in Ohio natural gas plants could potentially be a threat to the state.

"Our grid is so critical that anytime a large outside interest, a foreign country, begins to get enough of an interest to make an impact, I believe that is a threat, yes," said Callender during an event on October 21 to accept the signatures from the informal petition.

The resolution would also ban a foreign company from gaining access to:

  • Non-public technical information about critical infrastructure
  • Membership or observer rights on the corporation’s or entity’s board of directors
  • Any other involvement in substantive decision making regarding critical infrastructure or critical infrastructure technology

The Ohio Critical Infrastructure Protection Amendment would require owners to disclose information to the Ohio Secretary of State. Under the proposed amendment, if there is majority ownership from a foreign entity then that owner would have one year to divest.

Copyright 2019 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.