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As Economic Damage of Corruption Continues to Climb, Ohio House Dems Eye Pro-Consumer Protections in Hearings on Key Bills

June 12, 2024
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS – As corporate bailout costs for failing coal plants in Ohio and Indiana are projected to climb to $500 million over the next six months, Ohio House Democrats today highlighted consumer protections in a pair of bills the Democrats say would reverse the economic damage of the corrupt passage of House Bill 6.

“Our job is to bring costs down for the people of Ohio, and that is what our bills would do. Instead, Republicans are continuing to make people pay more as a result of their corrupt deals,” said Rep. Isaacsohn.

Democrats contend Ohio consumers are being held back by the economic damage of an extra half-million dollars per day they are being forced to pay from the corrupt passage of HB 6, which brought about the imprisonment of the former Speaker of the Ohio House and former Ohio Republican Party Chair in addition to the recent death of Governor DeWine’s handpicked top utility regulator, Sam Randazzo. 

To date, Ohioans have shelled out more than $300-400 million to prop up the failing corporate ventures in Cheshire, Ohio and Madison, Indiana.

Two Democratic bills received some attention today in the House Public Utilities Commission. Rep. Daniel Troy’s (D-Willowick) PUCO Nomination Reform Act (HB 363) would adjust the broken nomination process involving the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), preventing individuals like Sam Randazzo, the former chair of the PUCO, who was indicted for taking $4.3 million in bribes in exchange for helping FirstEnergy conduct nefarious activities.

“The process of public utility rate-making in Ohio has been the victim of “regulatory capture” in recent years. Too often, the “referee” between the utility industry and the rate-payers, the PUCO, has demonstrated a pro-industry bias due to the make-up of that body. The nominating committee for PUCO Commissioners is sorely in need of a more diverse and consumer protection oriented composition, and we need more guardrails on the qualifications of nominees to ensure that we prevent industry insiders such as former appointee Randazzo from sitting on this important board,” said Rep. Troy.

Second, Rep. Rachel Baker’s (D-Cincinnati) PUCO Utility Charge Refund Act (HB 393) would require the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to order refunds to consumers if a utility charge is deemed to be unlawful by the Ohio Supreme Court. 

“At a moment when electricity costs are at an all-time high, consumers need to be able to trust that their rates are fair and that their hard-earned money is protected against bad actors,” said Rep. Baker.

House Democrats have introduced other pieces of legislation aimed at weeding out corruption and strengthening ethics, all of which have not received a second hearing.

  • The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act (House Bill 112, Reps. Miranda/Sweeney) would require dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending. 
  • The HB 6 Repeal and Repay Act (House Bill 120, Reps. Weinstein/Brennan) would fully repeal and refund subsidies established in HB 6 during the 133rd General Assembly that are still being paid by Ohioans to bail out two Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (OVEC) coal-fired power plants—one of which is located in Indiana. 

Until action is taken, the people of Ohio will continue to pay for the crimes of a greedy few. House Democrats will continue efforts to close this dark chapter in Ohio’s history, undo the economic damage of corruption to Ohioans,  and ensure corruption is never commonplace in our state government– no matter who is in charge.