COLUMBUS –Today, during the initial meeting of the newly-created Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, House Democrats once again attempted to repeal House Bill (HB) 6, the multi-billion corporate bailout bill at the center of an ongoing FBI criminal investigation into an alleged $60 million racketeering and bribery scheme led by former Republican Speaker Larry Householder. During the meeting, Reps. Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Michael O’Brien (D-Warren) offered sponsor testimony on HB 738, their bill to repeal HB 6.
Rep. Skindell also offered sponsor testimony on HB 740 with Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati). That bill repeals a provision in state law allowing First Energy to keep excessive profits rather than returning the money to electric customers through a rate adjustment.
“House Bill 6 increases costs on Ohio families, puts good energy jobs at risk and was bad policy for Ohio’s energy future,” said Rep. Skindell. “It is often referred to as the worst energy policy legislation passed by any state and is the quintessential example of how a corrupted system can pass legislation that hurts the average working family to benefit large corporations.”
“The confidence and trust of Ohioans cannot be restored until there is a complete and immediate repeal of legislation founded in corruption,” said Rep. O’Brien. “Legislation adopted by means of corruption is itself corrupt.”
Following testimony, Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) made a motion to report Republican-sponsored HB 746 – the identical HB 6 repeal bill to Democrats’’ HB 738 – to the House floor for a vote. The motion was ruled to be out of order by Chairman James Hoops (R-Napoleon) and the Republicans on the committee voted to kill the motion, marking the latest attempt by Republicans to block Democratic efforts to repeal HB 6 immediately.
House Democrats have put forth multiple efforts to quickly repeal HB 6 in order to help restore the public’s trust in the legislature, and have called the creation of this Select Committee an unnecessary stall tactic by House Republicans. On Aug. 11, House Democratic leadership, including Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), Minority Whip Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Assistant Whip Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) filed a protest of the passage of House Bill 6 due to the serious allegations of bribery and pay-to-pay politics that were involved in the deliberations and passage of the bill.
On Aug. 28, Democrats announced they would file a discharge petition to bring bipartisan legislation to repeal HB 6 to the floor for a vote during session on Sept. 1. House Republicans aggressively worked to thwart the effort by requiring that signatures be done in person and not electronically like all other legislation in an attempt to keep the bill from being brought to the floor in a timely manner.
Republican attempts to block the repeal of HB 6 came to a head on Sept. 1 when Speaker Robert Cupp (R-Lima) and House Republicans abruptly ended House session as Democrats readied to offer several amendments to repeal HB 6 on the floor. The session ended before making it even halfway through the scheduled calendar—an unprecedented move intended to block Democratic efforts to repeal HB 6.