Opponents of House Bill 6 are seeking a temporary restraining order against the state law that requires managers of paid circulators to file the disclosure forms with the Ohio Secretary of State. U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus said he would soon rule on the request.
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, a coalition of interest groups that are seeking a referendum on House Bill 6, has filed paperwork identifying all its paid circulators — not just the managers — out of an “abundance of caution” to avoid risking invalidation, said spokesman Gene Pierce. The group alleges that within hours of filing the forms, the circulators are approached by the other side and offered $2,500 and a plane ticket out of town to quit.
Assistant Attorney General Bridget Coontz, representing the Secretary of State, said the group is ‘over-reporting’ and is required to identify only the managers of the the petitioners.
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Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts also is also requesting a 90 day extension in their efforts to collect 265,744 valid voter signatures. It faces an Oct. 21 deadline. The group says 40 days of its 90 day collection window was eaten up waiting for state officials to approve the petition summary language.
Ohioans for Energy Security and Generation Now, two political action groups, are orchestrating a “decline to sign” campaign to thwart the HB6 referendum from making the November 2020 ballot. Those groups are running TV ads and mailing literature to voters across the state, alleging that the Chinese government and foreign entities have infiltrated the Ohio energy grid and implying petitions for the HB6 referendum are collecting personal information from voters.
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Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions and its allies, including Generation Now and Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, pushed for passage of House Bill 6. FirstEnergy Solutions filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 and has said it needs the subsidies for its nuclear power plants to keep them open.
House Bill 6 also:
- Extended a separate fee paid by all Ohio electric customers in order to continue a subsidy payment to Ohio Valley Electric Corp.’s two coal-fired plants open, including one in Indiana;
- Allocated up to $20 million a year to be made available to owners of large-scale solar power plants;
- Set a time table for the elimination of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs that have been in place for a decade.
The fees will apply to 4.8 million customers across Ohio.
If the referendum campaign qualifies for the November 2020 ballot, the law would be put on hold until the vote is held.
Environmental groups, free market think tanks, consumer advocates and other power companies opposed the bill.
Related: Big money pushes for energy bill; consumer groups oppose it