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Despite new legislation, HB6 still needs to go

We were pleased to see House Bill 128’s passage last week in Columbus, a bill that includes language to repeal parts of the controversial nuclear bailout bill that added fees to all Ohioans’ electric bills.

HB 128 passed the Ohio House last Thursday by a vote of 89-0. It passed the Ohio Senate Wednesday by a vote of 33-0. Legislators representing Valley constituents who voted “yes” included Reps. Al Catrona, R-Canfield; Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown; Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta; and Michael O’Brien, D-Warren; along with Sens. Sandra O’Brien, R-Knox; and Michael Rulli, R-Salem. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

HB 128 removes the nuclear subsidy enacted in House Bill 6, lowering utility rates and saving $1 billion for Ohioans over the next seven years, while protecting the thousands of people employed by the zero-emission nuclear facilities in Ohio.

Indeed, the bill saves money for ratepayers, and that’s good news. But we believe more still needs to be done.

As you will recall, the nuclear bailout bill, or HB 6, that passed last year was at the center of, if proven, the largest public racketeering and bribery scheme in Ohio history.

In July 2020, federal authorities arrested former state House Speaker Larry Householder and four of his associates. They were accused of being involved in a $60 million bribery scheme allegedly utilized to ensure passage of a bill to bail out two nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

The bill called for Ohio consumers to pay surcharges totaling $150 million each year through 2026 to keep the nuclear plants afloat.

HB 128 stops short of complete repeal of HB 6. That’s something we have been calling for since the criminal allegations came to light. In fact, we were opposed to HB 6 before it even passed and became law.

We believe the repeal still needs to happen. Such action, of course, would not preclude Ohio’s lawmakers from heading back to the drawing board to debate whether bailouts of Ohio’s nuclear plants should occur.

But for now, we know HB 6 passed with manipulation and, if proven, improper influence through illegal acts. The only way to correct this is to repeal it in its entirety.

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