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Legislators should be the lawmakers

The group pushing for a statewide referendum that could overturn Ohio’s nuclear bailout law says it won’t turn in petitions by Monday’s deadline.

That political action committee calling itself Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had until Monday to turn in 265,774 valid signatures from registered voters in 44 Ohio counties in order to hold a 2020 referendum on House Bill 6. Passed in July, that bill tacks a fee onto electric users’ bills and creates a pot of money that will give more than $1 billion over seven years to FirstEnergy Solutions, the owner of Ohio’s Davis Besse and Perry nuclear power plants.

Now, however, the group says it is unable to hit the deadline.

Good.

Readers may be surprised to read that response because we consistently have opposed HB 6.

In fact, we have argued that Ohio’s electric customers should not be forced by law to pay additional funds that will be funneled to any company or public utility to fund operations. But that’s exactly what HB 6 does.

It was designed largely to help to fund inefficient and bankrupt nuclear power plants, while providing no financial assistance to competing power sources like the third natural gas-fired power plant that had been under consideration for Lordstown.

Without the cash infusion from customers, FirstEnergy Solutions, which is going through bankruptcy reorganization, warned its two nuclear power plants located near Cleveland and Toledo would be shut down within two years.

In April, Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future, who has been intricately involved in the planning for three Lordstown power plants, had testified against the bill. In his Columbus testimony, he warned passage would have a chilling effect in Ohio by forcing new investment outside of the state.

Shortly after the bill’s passage, a decision was announced to pull the plug on proposals that would have brought a third gas power plant to the Mahoning Valley.

That is a shame because it would have meant many more construction jobs and some additional permanent jobs, not to mention financial support for local schools and government.

But we digress.

Despite our feelings about the language and purpose of HB 6, we remain opposed to the plan by residents to attempt to remove the issue.

In Ohio and America, we enjoy a representative form of government, and as such, we can and should allow our legislators — whom we elected to represent us in Columbus — an opportunity to raise legislative issues like this that need to be addressed.

We believe we should allow our legislators to do their jobs as representatives of their constituents. If we disagree with their decisions, then we have the right and ability to cast our vote to remove them in the next election. Yes, we disagree with HB 6. But even more than that, we believe that we should allow our representatives to do the jobs we elected them to do.

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