Anti-Nuclear Bailout Effort Fails To Meet Signature Deadline

Oct 21, 2019

Opponents of the nuclear power plant bailout declined to submit signatures before the state-mandated deadline for their bid to get a referendum on the law on the 2020 ballot.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had until to Monday to submit the signatures. The group says it isn't giving up and will continue with a lawsuit that asks to extend the deadline.

The road to collecting the signatures has been a long one, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides, advertising campaigns, allegations of harassment and two court cases.

The group had a big blitz over the weekend to finish gathering the more than 265,000 votes needed.

However Ohio Public Radio Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow says that it wasn't enough to get the measure on next year's ballot.

"Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts are saying they didn't get enough signatures to qualify. Now whether that means they didn't get enough total signatures, or enough padding, we don't know," Chow said.

The group is now banking on a federal court case.

"They're asking for an extension. They're saying the tactics used by their opponents, the certain bureaucracy that took place at the beginning of the petition cycle, delayed them enough where they think they have a constitutional right to have an extension to their deadline," Chow said.

Although waiting for the courts to decide the matter could be a risky move.

"When you submit the signatures, when you have even the bare minimum amount of signatures, that puts a pause on the law," he says. "So what this means now is at midnight tonight (Monday), HB 6 and all the laws created through HB 6 will go into effect."

The hearing in the federal court case is scheduled for Tuesday.

In July, Ohio lawmakers approved a roughly $1 billion financial rescue for two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio.

FirstEnergy Solutions, the owner of the two nuclear power plants, say they would be forced to close without the money, but the state's natural gas industry says the move puts it at a disadvantage.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.