Ohio House members Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) were among the first to advocate for the repeal of House Bill 6, following the arrest and indictment of former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) in a massive $61 million bribery scheme, alleged by federal investigators.
HB 6 provided a $1 billion taxpayer bailout so First Energy could prop up its two failing nuclear plants along the Lake Erie shoreline. Two coal plants also were saved through HB 6.
It's important to note that Manning and Greenspan voted twice against passage of HB 6. So they are not looking to score points with voters by getting out front with an effort to repeal it. They did not like HB 6 then, and they don't like it now.
On the heels of Householder's arrest, Manning, with Democrat ic colleague Jessica Miranda, initiated legislation that would require increased transparency about contributions made by various groups to either issues or candidates. The law proposes to shine a light on the “dark money” we hear about by requiring corporations and unions to report independent expenditures and, during an election year, they would need to report within 24 hours independent expenditures toward electioneering communications. Had this been law at the time Householder pushed for HB 6, Ohioans would have known who and how much was poured into those efforts. The campaign finance reform bill, HB 737, is co-sponsored by Greenspan and Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), who represents Avon. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Ohio's chief elections officer, supports it.
Robert Cupp, a Republican from Lima, was elected House Speaker after Householder, who refused to resign as speaker, was voted out. Cupp will certainly feel the weight of the leadership role he assumes given the horrific fall of his predecessor.
His pledge for increased transparency is welcome. Even better, he can ensure that HB 6 is repealed and campaign finance reform enacted before the end of the term in December, or sooner. We believe action on both bills will go a long way toward easing the unease Ohioans feel as a result of the bribery indictments. It would certainly make it more difficult to even attempt anything similar in the future. Ohioans have a right to know who is supporting a cause or candidate and how much they have donated toward victory or loss.
There will be some back and forth about whether something should be done to protect nuclear power in Ohio. There's an argument to be made about the environmental benefits. However, shouldn't the success or failure of nuclear power rest with the business that operates the plants? Why was a taxpayer-funded bailout the only answer? We urge the legislature to resurrect Greenspan's idea to create a clean energy loan program so utilities, including First Energy could apply for repayable state loans.
Compared to the billion-dollar handout First Energy received, government has done little for small businesses struggling with the effect of coronavirus. We're more concerned about local restaurants, hardware stores, bakeries, hair and nail salons and retailers that line the streets of our cities, suburbs and small towns. Yes, we need power to function. Businesses, farmers and homeowners do not need to be saddled with subsidizing a corporation that has continued to have millions laying around for an army of lobbyists and ad agencies.
Manning and Greenspan have acted honorably and should be recognized for that. We hope Speaker Cupp forms a strong partnership with these two local leaders.