energy bill referendum

Republican Jamie Callender acceptins signatures for a petition.
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The controversial campaign to put the state’s nuclear bailout law before voters next year is over for now. But Republican lawmakers are bringing back an element of that battle by proposing a plan to ban foreign companies from investing in certain areas of Ohio's infrastructure. 

The House resolution would call for a constitutional amendment that prohibits foreign businesses from having a majority ownership in things like power plants, pipelines, and water.

a photo of the petition
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A group that wants Ohioans to vote on an energy law that bailed out Ohio's two nuclear power plants has one more week to get enough petition signatures. They need nearly 260,000 valid signatures to put the law before voters next year.  

But supporters of the bailout are waging an unrelenting fight to stop that. 

The pro-bailout Ohioans For Energy Security has been urging people not to sign petitions that would put the bailout on the ballot – first with ads and mailers linking the campaign to China, and now targeting the people who’ve been hired to gather signatures. 

a photo of woman gathering signatures in support of referendum on energy bill
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Attorney General Dave Yost says the campaign around the nuclear bailout referendum is getting "ugly." Petitioners say they've experienced aggression and intimidation by trackers paid to support the subsidies to Ohio’s two nuclear plants.

Yost says he wants this kind of intimidation reported to his office so they can investigate. 

Circulators gathering signatures to put the bailout on the ballot are being followed by trackers paid by the dark money group Generation Now.

A photo of a worker gathering signatures on a petition
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The intense fight over a petition drive seeking to overturn Ohio's nuclear bailout law is escalating with a counter petition now circulating around the state. The pro-nuclear bailout group is calling it a grassroots effort which doubles down on their anti-foreign investors’ message.

Ballot efforts typically ramp up in the weeks before an election. The fight over Ohio’s new nuclear bailout law, though, is in full swing more than a year before a possible vote.

So why the early start? One side says it’s to keep two nuclear power plants from closing, while experts say spending now may be the best investment.

Common Cause Ohio and the League of Women Voters Ohio raising awareness about the importance of campaign finance transparency.
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A lot of money is pouring into the fight to put the nuclear power plant bailout before voters. The scathing campaign against the referendum attempt has a collection of good government groups calling for campaign finance transparency. 

Pro-nuclear bailout groups have flooded the airwaves and mailboxes with ads that try to scare people into not signing the petition, claiming the effort is connected to Chinese government interests.

photo of carbon emissions
JAMES KELLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK

Working to support wind and solar has become almost standard in states nationwide. Some are even phasing out coal, but not Ohio. It recently passed a law doubling down on subsidies for power plants.  

Perry Nuclear Power Generation Station
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Opponents of Ohio’s nuclear power plant bailout law are one step closer to begin collecting the signatures they need to put a referendum on next year's ballot.   

The group Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts cleared their latest hurdle towards the ballot with the attorney general approving their summary language.

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio voting
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

There’s a growing debate over whether a group can put a referendum on next year's ballot that reverses the nuclear bailout bill. The dispute revolves around whether or not the increased rate on electric bills should be considered a tax increase.

A Columbus law firm sent a memo to the Secretary of State arguing that the new energy law charging electric customers up to $2.35 a month for nuclear, coal and solar subsidies, is a tax increase. Citizens can't use a referendum to challenge a tax increase.