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Anti-Nuclear Bailout Group Argues Against Opponent Tactics In Federal Court

Gene Pierce, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, talks to journalists outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Columbus.
Andy Chow
Gene Pierce, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, talks to journalists outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Columbus.

UPDATE: A federal judge has ruled that opponents of the nuclear power plant bailout law can temporarily stop filing paperwork that discloses personal information about their signature gatherers. The group that wants to put the law before voters says the other side has been using that information to target their petition circulators.

Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts told the judge that a state elections law that requires them to file what's known as "Form 15" creates unfair hurdles that the other side doesn’t have to face.

This form discloses petitioner information, and the group's Gene Pierce says this leaves their petitioners susceptible to harassment and other tactics by their opposition.

Pierce says doing away with that rule and extending their window of time would create a level playing field.

"State government has set up barriers to private citizens challenging their decisions and that's what we think is unconstitutional," says Pierce.

The Secretary of State’s office argues the referendum group is over-filing and that the required forms are only meant for higher ups such as managers and supervisors.

Pierce argues they are turning in a form from everyone out of "abject fear" that their petition drive would be invalidated otherwise. He points to a ballot initiative that was thrown out last year. That group wanted to cap how much clinics could charge for kidney dialysis. The state thew out the initiative saying it did not file the proper paperwork.

The pro-nuclear bailout groups, such as Ohioans for Energy Security and Generation Now, did not comment on the hearing. Neither did attorneys representing FirstEnergy Solutions, which would receive $150 million a year in ratepayer subsidies if HB6 remained law.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.