COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers are aiming to repeal part of House Bill 6, energy bailout legislation that passed and sent former Speaker of the House Larry Householder to a guilty verdict for taking bribes to pass the bill.
Now, Representative Sean Brennan (D-Parma) is sponsoring House Bill 120 alongside Representative Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and 31 co-sponsors, including three Republican representatives, to repeal HB 6.
“This needs to be done, it needs to be done now,” Brennan said. “Our ratepayers, our residents back home are paying what we refer to as the cost of corruption.”
When Householder was Speaker of the House in 2019, he allegedly took bribes to pass legislation that would bail out energy plants. He has since been found guilty of racketeering, but parts of the law still stand.
The part that HB 120 would unravel is a provision that subsidizes two Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, or OVEC, coal plants through money on utility bills. However, not all representatives want to repeal that provision.
“We cannot bank on natural gas being at the low prices that it was at in 2019. And that’s why the OVEC provisions operate as a hedge,” Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said in a March interview. “You can’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Majority House Floor Leader Representative Seitz said in a March interview, when HB 120 was first introduced, he does “not foresee the bill going anywhere.” The bill has been in committee for several months, but has not had a single hearing. Now, lawmakers want to force a floor vote.
Lawmakers like Brennan said passing this bill will help Ohioans save money. But, Seitz said ratepayers are now getting credit back on their bills because “coal is back in the money.”
“It’s a quick, easy way for us here at the Statehouse to provide some economic relief for our residents on their utility bills,” Brennan said.
To force a floor vote, representatives need 50 signatures on a “‘”discharge petition.” Brennan said he is confident they can get there and that is the same number of votes they would need to pass HB 120 on the House floor.
But, the bill would still have to take on the Senate, and lawmakers like Seitz said until renewable energy is more reliable, the state needs to support base-load plants like coal, nuclear and natural gas.
“Demand for electricity is going up, baseload plants are being retired at a rate faster than expected and the gap is not being fulfilled by renewable sources,” Seitz said.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of if, it’s a matter of when these [coal] plants close,” Brennan said. “They are pretty old and obviously inefficient.”
Householder, will be sentenced in just a few weeks on June 29 in federal court in Cincinnati. Former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party Matt Borges was also found guilty in the same trial, he will be sentenced on June 30.