House Dems Voice Frustration With HB6 Repeal Bills Still In Committee
Leadership in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate have said they want to repeal a sweeping energy law, HB6, that's linked to an alleged bribery scheme. But the investigation continues to reveal more corruption, and opponents of the law are growing frustrated with the lack of movement for a repeal.
Since federal agents arrested former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and others in an alleged $61 million bribery scheme to pass HB6, two of the defendants have pleaded guilty, FirstEnergy fired its CEO, and the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has resigned.
Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati), a vocal supporter of a repeal, says it's time for lawmakers to act in order to restore public trust.
"This thing has snowballed into something much larger than where we started and what's unfortunate is that we have spent more time 'repealing House Bill 6' than it took us to pass House Bill 6," says Denson.
The federal prosecutor revealed the racketeering investigation at the end of July, and talks of a repeal have been circulating at the Statehouse ever since.
The Ohio House created a special committee to hold hearings on the subject, but none of the bills that have been created to either completely repeal HB6 or partially repeal it have moved out of committee.
"Enough already," Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) said in a written statement. "How many more need to be arrested, charged, fired and resign before we repudiate this corruption that has engulfed Ohio? The only way we can show that Ohio is not for sale is to repeal HB6 and Republican leadership is the only thing keeping that from happening."
Newly-elected House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) have voiced their support to repeal the energy law which creates $150 million in annual ratepayer subsidies for nuclear power plants. HB6 also creates subsidies for coal and solar power plants. Altogether, the new subsidies amount to a charge of about $2.35 a month for the average ratepayer.
Legislators who support the energy laws created through HB6 contend that the policy is still sound even if the process was tainted. That includes support for rolling back and eliminating the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
Part of the debate over a repeal is over the final cost for ratepayers; supporters of HB6 say the law ends up saving money on electric bills because of the cuts to the clean energy mandates, while opponents argue the efficiency standards were a cost benefit to the bottom line of electric bills.
The new charges on electric bills are set to begin January 2021 if a repeal is not passed.
Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau