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Ohio Legislature Misses Key Deadline For Nuclear Bailout Repeal

The entrance to Energy Harbor's Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
Associated Press
The entrance to Energy Harbor's Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

The Ohio House and Ohio Senate missed a notable date in their attempt to repeal House Bill 6, the sweeping energy bill at the heart of a corruption case. Now opponents say it will be even harder to avoid new charges on Ohioans' electric bills.

Because it takes 90 days for a bill to go into effect, lawmakers needed to pass a repeal of HB6 by October 1 if they wanted to stop subsidies for Ohio's two struggling nuclear plants, as well as two coal plants.

Federal prosecutors say the bill was supported through a $60 million racketeering scheme, allegedly orchestrated by former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Supporters say HB6 is still good policy despite the alleged process.

However, state Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) says the bill must repealed quickly in order to restore public trust.

"Because HB6 was created through the largest bribery scandal in the state of Ohio, we need to send a message loud and clear that these people will not get their ill-gotten gains," Leland says.

House Democrats have criticized Republicansfor delaying the repeal process with additional hearings, which new House Speaker Bob Cupp argues are necessary to understand the potential financial impact.

The legislature can still avoid ratepayer charges by attaching an emergency clause to the repeal bill, allowing it to take effect immediately, but that requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a civil suit against FirstEnergy – the energy utility likely behind the bribery scheme – in order to stop it from receiving the estimated $1.1 billion in subsidies. If Yost's lawsuit succeeds while the repeal process drags on, however, it's possible that money could be collected from Ohio ratepayers but not distributed to the energy companies.

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.