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Nuclear Bailout Opponents Request Petition Extension Through Lawsuit

HB6 Referendum petitioners collect signatures outside of the Ohio Statehouse.
Andy Chow
HB6 Referendum petitioners collect signatures outside of the Ohio Statehouse.

Opponents of the nuclear power plant bailout, created through HB6, have filed a lawsuit in federal court to get an extension to their referendum signature gathering due date. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is arguing their rivals are unfairly using campaign records against them.

The anti-nuclear bailout group wants the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to suspend a rule that requires petitioners to submit what's known as "Form 15" which includes detailed personal information.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, which is trying to collect more than 265,000 signatures by October 21 to put a referendum of HB6 on next year's ballot, says their opponents can use that information to track down petitioners.

"Those are being used as a weapon by our opponents. The petitioners are being blocked, and targeted, and bribed to not participate in our campaign," says Chris Finney, attorney for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts.

The lawsuit also argues that the review of petition summary language cut into the window of time the group had to collect enough signatures. Finney says they're asking for a 90-day extension from the time the court issues its ruling on the requested injunction.

"Asking a federal court to throw out Ohio law and long-standing provisions of the Ohio Constitution is a desperate act," says Carlo LoParo, spokesperson for pro-nuclear bailout group Ohioans for Energy Security. "It’s now clear why they’ve peddled irresponsible rumors and made unsubstantiated charges over the past few weeks. They can’t get Ohioans to sign their jobs-killing petition. Now they want to a court to throw out the laws they don’t want to follow. It doesn’t work that way."

LoParo notes that his group is waiting for a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court on whether the bailout should be considered a tax, in which case the law could not be subject to a referendum.

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