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.
Gene Pierce, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, says their effort to put an #HB6 referendum on the ballot is being thwarted by the opposition. Pierce says part of the problem is their opponents are using the records his petitioners file to target them pic.twitter.com/t5goNgSPsD— Andy Chow (@andy_chow) October 11, 2019
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.
Attorneys for FirstEnergy Solutions walkout of federal court after a hearing for the lawsuit posed by the group fighting against the nuclear power plant bailout. They had no comment on the lawsuit #HB6 pic.twitter.com/ekbr7f7pWz— Andy Chow (@andy_chow) October 11, 2019
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.