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House Bill 6 faces uncertain future in light of bribery scandal

Gov. Mike DeWine and other Republicans are calling for the repeal and replacement of the bill.
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 1:59 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - What happens now with the Ohio House bill at the center of a federal corruption investigation? HB6 helped keep the doors open at Davis-Besse, saving about 700 jobs and countless contractors at the Oak Harbor power plant. The chorus to repeal the bill and start over got much louder Thursday.

Governor Mike DeWine has changed his mind. He’s now leading the charge to repeal House Bill 6 and come up with a new version, but that means more concern in our region.

“From the beginning to the middle to the end, this legislation has been tainted,” said State Representative Laura Lanese. “We can’t have good government until we have transparent and accountable government. The state of Ohio deserves that.”

Republicans Lanese and Rick Carfagna are asking for the house to repeal the bill, but not everyone in their party is on board with that.

“I think repealing House Bill 6 is a terrible idea. I would fight against that if it was seriously being considered in the House and Senate,” said Senator Theresa Gavarone.

Gavarone of Bowling Green voted for HB6. She understands the charges against House Speaker Larry Householder and the alleged bribes that preceded the vote but she believes the substance of the bill wins out.

“Anyone acting illegally should be brought to justice but that doesn’t change the fact that House Bill 6 is good policy,” said Gavarone.

The bill allowed a surcharge on FirstEnergy bills to keep the nuclear facilities operational. For Ottawa County that also meant keeping afloat one of its major employers, factors that will be part of whatever discussions happen next on HB6.

“It’s fair to say no one in the Ohio legislature, even those who voted against House Bill 6. It was not lost of them what was at stake with regards to jobs and the economic livelihood of the areas surrounding these nuclear facilities,” said Rep. Carfagna.

According to the federal complaint, one of the places where those alleged bribery dollars were spent was preventing a ballot initiative allowing voters to decide what happens to HB6 and the surcharge. No one’s quite sure yet whether this will ever end up in front of voters.

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