House leadership protects scandal-ridden House Bill 6, blocking repeal effort

By: - June 22, 2023 4:55 am

A house is seen near the Gavin Power Plant on September 11, 2019 in Cheshire, Ohio. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Ohio House leadership voted to protect a scandal-ridden law that forces ratepayers to spend millions funding “dirty” coal plants. In doing this, the Republicans likely killed the bipartisan repeal effort.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and his fellow GOP members on leadership voted Tuesday to recall House Bill 120. H.B. 120 would eliminate subsidies for two 1950s-era coal plants.

jury found that Householder and former GOP leader Matt Borges, beyond a reasonable doubt, participated in the largest public corruption case in state history, a racketeering scheme that left four men guilty and another dead by suicide.

Householder passed a nearly $61 million scheme to pass a billion-dollar bailout, House Bill 6, at the expense of taxpayers and at the benefit of his pockets.

H.B. 6 mainly benefited FirstEnergy’s struggling nuclear power plants, which provisions were later repealed. There are remaining aspects of the bill still in place, though.

The Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) also got a handout from the scandal. It expanded a bailout of the OVEC plants and required Ohioans to pay for them. The main beneficiaries from this were American Electric Power Company (AEP), Duke Energy and AES Ohio.

Householder and Borges will be sentenced at 1 p.m. on June 29 and 11 a.m. on June 30, respectively, according to court documents.

Repeal effort

Stephens has one of the coal plants in his district and has shown no signs of wanting to repeal the bailouts. The bill has received no hearings, despite it being introduced months ago.

“Ohioans are propping up these dirty, old, uncompetitive coal plants,” state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said.

In early June, News 5 broke the news that Ohio lawmakers decided to go over the speaker’s head to move their bill.

A faction of Republicans joined the Democrats to discharge the bill from the committee, meaning, with enough signatures, the legislation would move immediately to a full House vote, superseding the speaker.

If all 32 Democrats vote for the repeal, which is likely, only 18 Republicans are needed.

There are 22 signatures on the petition as of Tuesday evening, but News 5 was told that the rest of the Democrats and the Republicans in favor would be signing following the passage of the budget.


After House session on Wednesday, WEWS/OCJ asked Stephens why he recalled the bill.

“The rates are going up, we got all the budget stuff going on and all the other bills we’ve got dealing with that haven’t had a hearing yet,” Stephens responded. “We just went ahead and recalled it.”

H.B. 120 has also not had a hearing yet. The Public Utilities Committee, where the bill was originally in, only has three other bills it is supposed to hear. For comparison, Criminal Justice has 18 bills.

According to House rules, “only one discharge motion can be presented for each bill or resolution,” which could mean that pulling the bill out of committee completely killed the effort to get the legislation to the floor for a vote. Since Stephens is seemingly opposed to the bill, this could mean that it dies totally.

Right now, the bill is in Stephens’ hands, but could eventually be dropped back to another committee.

News 5 reached out to numerous other members of GOP leadership to ask their reasoning for voting to recall it, but none responded.

The bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats in support of the bill are expressing anger, accusing Stephens of pulling the bill because he knows it has the votes.

“Jason made a procedural move to stop OVEC repeal so corporate welfare can continue on the backs of Ohioans,” state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) said. “He knew we could get 50 signatures and force a floor vote and that the bill would pass.”

Merrin, who is rivals with Stephens, said there may be another option depending on how the House rules are read. To him, a discharge may work but it would be delayed a month. A bill has to be in a committee for about a month before it can be discharged.

“We have to wait another 30 days before we can pull another discharge petition, but I think we will and continue a bipartisan push to repeal this corporate welfare that was extended by H.B. 6,” he added. “Democrats put Jason in power, and they can get him to bring it up for a vote if they push hard enough.”

This article was originally published on and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.