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HB6 Casts A Shadow Over Ohio's 18th District State Senate Race

The most controversial issue in Ohio’s 18th District State Senate race isn’t anything that’s on the ballot.

Ohio House Bill 6 – the bill meant to bail out the state’s nuclear power plants – is not only tied to a $60 million bribery scandal involving former House Speaker Larry Householder. It also could impact Lake County voters more than others in the state, as a repeal could shut down the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.

That make HB6 and its potential repeal a major issue in the race between Republican candidate Jerry Cirino and Democratic candidate Betsy Rader.

The incumbent, Republican state Sen. John Eklund, cannot run for the seat again because of term limits.

Cirino, who currently serves as Lake County Commissioner, prefers to let the bill stand. But if it is repealed, he said he’s hoping it’s replaced by something similar.

“Notwithstanding the alleged activities that apparently were alleged to be going on in Columbus, about which none of us knew anything, I still believe that the policies of maintaining our clean energy production and our local economies is still good policy” Cirino said.

Rader, an employment lawyer, is calling for a repeal with a replacement plan. In addition to the bribery scandal, Rader is concerned about a lack of transparency from Energy Harbor, formerly FirstEnergy Solutions, the company that owns the Perry Nuclear Plant. Rader wants taxpayers to be able to see the company’s specific plans for the funds collected under HB6.

“Having a strategic plan to make sure the plants really stay open and keep those jobs, we’ve got to see that and have a way of supervising and having requirements and guarantees from the company,” Rader said. “It we’re going to have our Ohio citizen’s money go to a private company, there should be a high degree of accountability.”

The Ohio House has held hearings in the last few months to discuss what should be done with HB6, but has come to no conclusions so far. Some of the debate included repealing parts of the bill rather than the bill completely.

The Perry Nuclear Power Plant employs more than 700 people. Closing the plant would have an impact well beyond job loss; Perry Local Schools would lose an estimated $2.3 million in tax revenue.

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