COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio lawmakers are still arguing over House Bill 6(HB6), and new details could break any moment.
HB6 is the bill that adds a fee to our electric bills starting in just a couple of weeks.
The measure is the $1 billion nuclear plant bailout that we learned back in July was linked to Ohio's largest bribery scheme ever, involving former GOP House Leader Larry Householder and First Energy.
"It really is just House Bill 6 repackaged into another bill," said Republican Rep. Mark Romanchuk on Thursday's effort to clean up HB 6, Ohio's controversial bail-out of its two nuclear power plants.
Earlier this year, the FBI announced House Bill 6 became law through an alleged web of 60 million dollars in dark money and bribes.
At the forefront is former GOP House Leader Larry Householder.
"They improved it slightly but they really should've completely repealed all those bad provisions. They didn't do that," said Rep. Romanchuk.
Thursday was supposed to be the last day for state leaders to act before their terms expire. Lawmakers had three options:
- Repeal HB 6.
- Do nothing. Customers would have to start paying a few extra dollars a month beginning in 2021.
- Delay implementation for one year. By taking that route, lawmakers would essentially be kicking the issue to the next session while leaving some parts of HB 6 intact.
"It's actually worse than the original House Bill 6 because it basically does the same thing as House Bill 6 except it's got all the scandal staring us in the face," said Rep. David Leland (D).
Consumer advocacy groups agreed, still questioning the billion-dollar bailout, in light of the $60 million dollars in dark money used to pass House Bill 6 in the first place.
"I think most of us would have expected that they would just repeal House Bill 6. It's so connected to the Householder scandal. There's no reason not to stop this bill that's so connected to corruption," said Catherine Turcer, of Common Cause Ohio.
In order to get around the usual 90-day wait for a bill to take effect, lawmakers tucked the delay bill into another bill devoted to nuclear technology. That is what they were meeting on and quibbling over on Thursday.
What happens next?
As of 6:30pm Thursday, lawmakers were still in session voting on other bills. It could go into the late evening.
A source inside tells us, "It's lame-duck, nobody can predict," adding that "tomorrow is a possibility."