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GOP, Dems Clash Over Approach To Potential HB6 Repeal

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima)
Karen Kasler
House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima)

The Ohio House and Senate both addressed the potential repeal of the nuclear power plant bailout in different ways at the Statehouse on Tuesday. As Democrats call for a quick repeal, Republicans move ahead with a different approach.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) says a special committee will hold hearings on HB6, the law that bails out nuclear power plants, subsidizes coal plants, rolls back renewable energy standards and eliminates efficiency mandates. 

Cupp says there's a lot of unwinding the House must do to understand the impacts of a repeal.  

"And to do something in a hasty and reckless manner is totally inappropriate," Cupp says.

But Minority Leader Emilia Sykes says Democrats have asked for hearings on repeal bills that haven’t moved – so they’ll take other steps to, in her words, press the issue.

“We’ve asked, we’ve waited, our constituents have waited, they deserve to feel trust in the institution that is making the laws and holds the purse in the state of Ohio. And when they don’t do that, we will have to find ways to act.”

Part of the debate over a repeal is the impact it could have on electric bills. Nearly every Ohioan is set to see an increase of about $2.35 on their monthly electric bills for the nuclear power plant bailout, and to subsidize existing solar farms and coal plants.

Supporters of HB6 say a repeal would allow the continuation of increased charges customers see for the renewable and energy efficiency standards. Opponents of HB6 say the energy efficiency standards creates a return on investment with savings that counter the initial cost.

The Senate held its first hearing on a repeal bill, with several members who voted for the energy law defending it as good policy. 

HB6 is at the center of an alleged $60 million bribery scheme to push the legislation into law. A utility believed to be FirstEnergy and its subsidiary is accused of funneling the money into a dark money group controlled by former House Speaker and current Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), in return for passing the bailout. Householder, who faces federal racketeering charges, says he plans on entering a plea of "not guilty."

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