The House Bill 6 Saga Continues

Although HB 6 was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor DeWine in July, the controversy continues. In an effort to stop implementation of the bill, a referendum movement has begun which, if successful, would overturn HB 6. Referendum language -- including a summary of the bill -- must be approved by the Ohio Attorney General and the first draft was rejected by AG David Yost, who challenged the degree to which it accurately represented the statute's provisions. Revised language has now been submitted.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, a political action committee backed by environmental and business opponents of HB 6, are leading the campaign to repeal it. Once the ballot language is approved, the organizers have until October 21 to collect approximately 265,000 valid signatures in at least 44 counties to place the issue on the ballot in 2020.

In addition to language and signatures, the referendum may face other challenges as well. The Ohio Constitution prohibits overturning a tax statute at the polls. The supporters of HB 6, who consistently maintained that the customer charges in the bill were not taxes throughout the legislative debate, are now willing to classify them as such if it could shut down the referendum.

In a new ad campaign, the supporters of HB 6 are urging Ohioans not to sign the petition, inferring a vague and menacing threat that China will take over Ohio's power supply if the law is repealed. Ohio's public officials -- even those who may have supported the bill -- should speak out against this effort to distort the truth and undermine a process fundamental to our democracy.