Anti-Nuclear Bailout Group Argues For More Time To Collect Signatures

Oct 22, 2019

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts revealed in a U.S. District Court hearing that they fell far short of the signatures needed to qualify for a potential referendum on the nuclear bailout bill, created through HB6.

The group was trying to put a referendum of HB6 on next year's ballot and needed 265,774 valid signatures in order to do so. In Ohio law, the group needed to present at least that number in raw signatures to keep their referendum hopes alive. Instead, the group told a federal judge Tuesday that they collected just 221,092 by the October 21 deadline.

Attorneys for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts argued that the referendum attempt, which is granted through the Ohio Constitution, is thwarted by a process laid out in Ohio Revised Code. That process requires the Ohio Attorney General to approve of the petition summary language as "fair and truthful" before that petition can be circulated.

The anti-nuclear bailout group says that process cost them up to 38 days in lost circulation time.

"That combined with an extraordinarily funded opposition effort made it so the right of the people -- to be deprived of these petitions -- access to the ballot has been deprived," says Chris Finney, attorney for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts.

However, attorneys for the Secretary of State's Office, argued that the Ohio Attorney General and the Secretary of State were following Ohio law. The state also said the company running the signature gathering effort underestimated the opposition and was not familiar with Ohio law.

"The referendum effort was fraught with bad business decisions," said Bridget Coontz, counsel with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus said he plans to have a decision on the case by Wednesday.