(The Center Square) – House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, has created a new committee tasked with repealing and replacing House Bill 6, a ratepayer-funded bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants at the center of an ongoing federal probe.
Democrats denounced the move, however, alleging Republicans are not serious in their push to repeal the measure.
The formation of the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight is the latest fallout following the arrest and indictment of former House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and four others as part of a $60 million “public corruption racketeering conspiracy” to pass the legislation. The committee will ostensibly focus on energy issues more broadly in addition to repealing HB6.
“Our goal is to have an open and thorough process for repealing House Bill 6 and replacing it with thoughtful legislation Ohioans can have confidence in,” Cupp said in a statement. The move comes on the House’s first day of legislative action since Cupp was elected speaker.
Last week, House Democrats demanded lawmakers take action to repeal HB6. They threatened to use a discharge petition, “a seldom-used parliamentary maneuver,” to force action on a bill to repeal the measure.
Several high-profile Republicans, including Gov. Mike DeWine, have called for the repeal of the legislation. Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, told The Columbus Dispatch the state Senate would take up a repeal of HB6 when it meets in September.
A spokesman for DeWine said the governor had no comment about the new committee. House Democrats, however, did not mince words when describing their displeasure with the announcement.
“It is obvious now that the Republicans do not actually want to repeal House Bill 6,” state Reps. Michael J. Skindell, D-Lakewood, and Michael J. O’Brien, D-Warren, said in a statement released on Monday. “House Democrats learned of the creation of this unnecessary level of bureaucracy today along with the rest of the public. This new Committee was announced with no timeline, no membership and no purpose,” the pair said.
“Despite what they claim at press conferences and on social media, it is now clear that the Republicans have no intention of actually responding to the public’s cries to repeal House Bill 6 and instead they intend to protect it just as they have protected the seat of the disgraced former Speaker who they voted to keep as a member of the House of Representatives,” the lawmakers added.