COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Senate passed two bills Wednesday that address polarizing issues: the governor's power and the tainted taxpayer-funded bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants.
What You Need To Know
- Ohio Senate unanimously passed SB 10 Tuesday to partially repeal House Bill 6, the taxpayer funded bailout of two Ohio nuclear power plants
- SB 10 gets rid of decoupling and the SEAT
- SB 22 creates the Ohio Health Oversight and Advisory Committee made up of lawmakers from both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives
- SB 22 was passed along party lines
The Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday to partially repeal House Bill 6. Sen. Mark Romanchuk's (R-Ontario) Senate Bill 10 gets rid of two parts.
First, decoupling, which guarantees FirstEnergy nearly $1 billion per year regardless of consumer usage.
Second, it eliminates the SEAT, or Significant Earnings Accessive Test, which says FirstEnergy could avoid refunding consumers if they did not make a certain amount of money.
"They'll be refunds that occur as a result of the changes to decoupling repeal. Not sure yet if they'll be refunds with the SEAT," said Romanchuk.
Yet, the bill does not have any effect on the nuclear power subsidies from House Bill 6. Democrats offered a straight repeal of the bill but Republicans blocked it.
Republican senators also made clear Tuesday that Gov. Mike DeWine, any future governor, nor the Ohio Department of Health should have complete control over a statewide public health emergency.
"This bill is all about establishing reasonable checks and balances," said Senate Bill 22 primary co-sponsor Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon).
SB 22 does a number of things including creating the Ohio Health Oversight and Advisory Committee made up of lawmakers from both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives. The committee would advise the General Assembly on the governor's executive orders and state health agency's mandates.
"The power granted to the executive branch is immense during a time of emergency and that is something where the power that is being exercised is typically reserved during normal times to the legislature," McColley said.
The bill also says a state of emergency would automatically expire after 90 days but the General Assembly could get rid of one after 30 days. Ohioans have been under a state of emergency for nearly one year due to the pandemic.
The General Assembly could extend an emergency 60 days at a time if it wanted. A governor or the Ohio Department of Health could not issue a similar order for a month.
"This bill would give the legislature unconstitutional authority to make laws without having to pass a bill," said Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati).
Policy experts at the Ohio Statehouse and Gov. DeWine agree. The bill now moves to the House. Should the House pass the bill, DeWine said he would not sign it.
"It would just be a grave, grave mistake, and I've made it very clear to my friends in the legislature that if this bill would be passed, I would have no choice as governor of the state but to veto it," DeWine said Tuesday.
DeWine vetoed a similar bill last general assembly. The Republican-led legislature did not overturn that veto but now the GOP has a larger supermajority.