Ohio Senate invoice to repeal ‘decoupling’ provision of HB 6 strikes out of committee

The Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee took the first step in a move to repeal some key energy subsidies created with the passage of House Bill 6 in 2019.

The Tuesday, Feb. 9, vote to move Senate Bill 10 out of committee, which would end Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.’s profit guarantee — the so-called decoupling provision — and provide refunds to retail electric customers, was unanimous. However, amendments that reverse the coal subsidies of the previous legislation and restore renewable energy standards failed.

FirstEnergy earlier this month agreed to give up the higher rates it would have been able to charge under HB 6’s decoupling provision, which would have ensured its revenues remained at 2018 levels.

The senate bill is a partial repeal of HB 6, which passed during the previous General Assembly session and involved nearly $1 billion in nuclear subsidies, which are not addressed in SB 10.

HB 6 is part of a federal investigation led by U.S. Attorney David DeVillers of the Southern District of Ohio regarding the dark money used in lobbying and an alleged bribery scandal involving state politicians, political operatives and “Company A,” which is assumed to be FirstEnergy. Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County, was charged in the investigation.

DeVillers — at the request of the Biden administration, which asked all of Trump appointees to step down — announced his resignation on Tuesday, effective at the end of the month.

In a statement, DeVillers urged other prosecutors to continue the corruption investigation.

“While it was my hope to continue on for a few more months to finish some of the work we have started, I am absolutely certain that the assistant United States attorneys and investigators working for the people of the Southern District of Ohio will bring this work to a successful and just closure,” he said. “I encourage that person to be just, apolitical, aggressive and impactful.”

Other notable Ohio Senate Bills in committee in the Ohio Legislature this week:

  • SB 13: This bill would shorten the period of limitations in the state for oral contracts from six to four years and written contracts from eight to six years. In 2012, the statute of limitations was reduced from 15 years to the current eight years. If passed, this bill, according to sponsor Sen. George Lang, would mean Ohio would have some of the shortest statutes of limitation, which would give the state a competitive business advantage. This bill has passed the Senate and was introduced in the House.
  • SB 18: The bill would incorporate changes into Ohio tax law that would conform to federal changes and include an amendment to ensure Bureau of Workers’ Compensation dividends and the second round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program loans are not subject to the state’s Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). This bill was reported out of committee.
  • SB 45: This bill, a rehash of last session’s SB 95, would enhance state and local tax inducements for businesses making substantial fixed asset and employment investments. The bill would lengthen the maximum term of the Job Creation Tax Credit for businesses, authorize Commercial Activity Tax exclusions for such businesses and suppliers, and authorize local governments to grant longer term property tax exemptions. This bill has been referred to committee.