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Government & Politics

Energy Bill Referendum Group Asks Federal Court to Extend Petition Deadline

A photo of a worker gathering signatures on a petition
ANDY CHOW
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts says petition gatherers were physically intimidated and bribed.

The anti-nuclear bailout group argued in federal court Tuesday that they should get an extension to their petition drive. They say Ohio law restricts their constitutional rights to hold a referendum. But state lawyers blame the referendum effort of being full of bad business decisions.

It was revealed in a U.S. District Court hearing that Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts fell about 40,000 signatures short of the number it needed to hit in order to pause the nuclear bailout law.

But the group's Attorney Chris Finney argued that a state law that requires petition language to be approved by the attorney general unfairly delays the process granted by the Ohio constitution.

"That combined with an extraordinarily funded opposition effort made it so the right of the people -- to be deprived of these petitions -- access to the ballot has been deprived."

The state's attorneys argued that officials were simply following state law and that the referendum effort should have accounted for that.