On July 29, 2019, the campaign Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts filed a petition for a veto referendum against House Bill 6 (HB 6), which was designed to enact surcharges on customers of electric utilities to provide credits to FirstEnergy Solutions’ Davis–Besse Nuclear Power Station and Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Ohio Valley Electric Corporation’s (OVEC) two coal-fired power stations, and six solar-power stations. HB 6 was also designed to decrease the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 12.5 percent (by 2027) to 8.5 percent (by 2026) and decrease the state’s energy efficiency standards from a 22-percent reduction from 2008 levels to 17.5-percent reduction from 2008 levels by 2027.
Gene Pierce, spokesperson for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, described the campaign’s goal, stating, “Ohio families and businesses know H.B. 6 is a costly attack on Ohio consumers. This is the first step in rolling back this corporate bailout and reinstating Ohio’s renewable standards.” Pierce also said the organizations behind Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts are not being disclosed at this time. While HB 6 was in the Ohio State Legislature, Americans for Prosperity–Ohio, the Environmental Defense Fund, and The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, among others, testified against the legislation.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-72), a supporter of HB 6, responded to opponents. He said, “The only folks that have a tremendous interest in closing down our nuclear power plants, where Ohio generates its energy and where there are Ohio jobs, are people from outside the state of Ohio who want to monopolize our grid. And who are they? They’re foreign nationals from China.”
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed House Bill 6 (HB 6) into law on July 23, 2019. Rep. Jamie Callender (R-61) and Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-91) sponsored HB 6. The final version of HB 6 was passed in the Ohio State Senate on July 17, 2019. The vote was 19-12. The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 6 on July 23, 2019, in a vote of 51-38. About two-thirds of legislative Republicans and one-third of legislative Democrats supported HB 6.
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts can begin collecting signatures for the veto referendum if Attorney General Dave Yost (R) determines that the petition contains a fair and truthful statement on House Bill 6. Yost has until August 8, 2019, to make the determination. In Ohio, signatures for a veto referendum need to be filed 90 days after the bill’s enrollment, which gives Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts until October 21, 2019, to collect the 265,774 required signatures.
Since the adoption of the referendum process in Ohio in 1912, voters have addressed 13 veto referendums. Voters repealed 11, or 85 percent, of the bills put on the ballot via a veto referendum.