Here’s why Ohio lawmakers haven’t done anything about scandal-tainted House Bill 6 so far

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Following the July arrest of then-House Speaker Larry Householder on a charge he oversaw a bribery scheme to pass House Bill 6, dozens of Ohio lawmakers quickly signed on as co-sponsors of bills to repeal the tainted energy law.

But months later, it’s still unclear what, if anything, the Republican-dominated Ohio General Assembly will do about HB6 before the legislative session ends in December and the public starts paying for a $1 billion-plus bailout of two nuclear power plants in January.

The main reason, lawmakers and observers say, is because – much like congressional Republicans’ unsuccessful attempts to repeal Obamacare in 2017 – there’s no consensus among GOP lawmakers on what, if anything, to replace HB6 with.

Some favor a straight repeal of HB6. Others think it should be replaced, and at least a few believe nothing at all should be done to alter it.

“They are all over the place,” said state Rep. Mark Romanchuk of Richland County about his fellow Republicans.

There are other reasons as well. Even Republicans who favor repealing and replacing House Bill 6 say they need time to study HB6, an enormously complex law that goes far beyond the nuclear bailout, and make sure that any changes they make to it won’t have unintended consequences for Ohioans.

Another factor is that the Senate appears to be leaving it up to the House to decide what to do, as HB6 originated in that chamber. And the House is led by Bob Cupp, a newly elected House speaker who is living up to his reputation for acting deliberatively.

“You’ve got Republicans in the caucus who think ‘This is all just going to blow over — if we just stonewall for long enough, people will forget about it,’” said state Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat. “And then you’ve got people who want to do something, but they’re not sure what they want to do. And then you’ve got a speaker who doesn’t know what he wants to do. It’s a multi-faceted problem for the Republican caucus.”

Taking their time

After Householder and four allies were arrested in late July, Republicans and Democrats in the Ohio House each introduced bills to repeal HB6.

Soon after that, Cupp was elected and quickly formed a study committee to look into repealing and replacing HB6. But that committee has wrapped up hearings on the repeal bills until after Election Day.

The panel’s chair, state Rep. Jim Hoops, told reporters last week that concerns have been raised that repealing the law without replacing it could lead to unwanted consequences, and committee members want to hear more testimony before deciding what to do.

“You don’t want to react so quickly that you end up making a bigger mess,” said Hoops, a veteran GOP lawmaker who voted for HB6, during a separate interview last month.

Besides the nuclear bailout, there are a lot of other parts of HB6 that lawmakers have to decide whether to keep – including (among many other things):

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House rebuffs GOP lawmaker’s effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol

The House on Tuesday tabled a resolution offered by conservative Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertRep. Dan Meuser tests positive for COVID-19 Watchdog calls for probe into Gohmert ‘disregarding public health guidance’ on COVID-19 Massie plans to donate plasma after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies MORE (R-Texas) calling on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAirline industry applauds Democrats for including aid in coronavirus relief package Democrats unveil scaled-down .2T coronavirus relief package Trump tax reveal roils presidential race MORE (D-Calif.) to remove any references in the lower chamber to political parties that supported slavery or the Confederacy, including the Democratic Party.

The chamber tabled the measure in a 223-176 vote. Gohmert offered the resolution after the Democratic-controlled House voted in July to remove statues of people who served the Confederacy or otherwise worked to defend slavery from the Capitol.

Critics of removing the Confederate statues, including Gohmert, argued that lawmakers were attempting to erase history by doing away with the symbols.

“Due to parliamentary issues, I am re-introducing my Privileged Resolution and urging my Democratic colleagues to rid the House wing of the U.S. Capitol of any item that names, symbolizes or mentions their own political party because of its past support for slavery and the Confederacy,” Gohmert said in a statement reintroducing the resolution on Thursday.

“Though I personally believe we need to learn from history including the good, the bad and the ugly, the Democratic Party has initiated this purging but needs assistance to avoid unparalleled hypocrisy. So, it is time for Democrats to account for, be washed of, and rid our Capitol of the sins of their party’s past.”

The resolution — which was co-sponsored by GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jody HiceJody Brownlow HicePelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership House Republicans investigating California secretary of state’s contract with Biden-linked firm GOP lawmakers want answers from Disney on Mulan, China MORE (Ga.), Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups | Kudlow: ‘No sector worse hurt than energy’ during pandemic | Trump pledges ‘no politics’ in Pebble Mine review Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups  GOP’s Gohmert introduces resolution that would ban the Democratic Party MORE (Texas), Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisCongressman who denounced mask wearing overseeing the trial of a drug to treat COVID-19 Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership Ukraine language in GOP platform underscores Trump tensions MORE (Md.), Rick CrawfordRick CrawfordLWCF modernization: Restoring the promise Republicans score procedural victory on Democrats’ infrastructure bill The case for renewed US engagement in Latin America MORE (Ark.), and Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanHouse Dems introduce bill to require masks on planes and in airports Bipartisan bill introduced to require TSA to take temperature checks House Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks MORE (S.C.) — points to the Democratic Party supporting the institution of slavery during the time of

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Officials allow Illinois lawmakers to investigate House speaker bribery scandal

Federal prosecutors gave Illinois lawmakers the green light to perform an independent investigation into long-time House Speaker Michael Madigan, committee members said, but Democrats and Republicans disagree on what it means for the investigation.

The Illinois House of Representatives will continue its proceedings after U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. told the House Special Investigation Committee that it would be allowed to move forward as long as it doesn’t jeopardize his ongoing probe into ComEd and the company’s patronage and bribery scheme aimed at currying favor with Madigan.

The speaker has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing. Madigan was implicated in ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement.

The committee’s chairman, state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, said Tuesday that the committee plans to continue but its actions will be limited.

“The U.S. Attorney made it clear we could seek testimony from whoever we choose; however, they requested we refrain from seeking any materials or testimony related to the [deferred prosecution agreement] that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government. In other words, we can call witnesses, but we can’t really ask them any questions,” he said in a statement.

Welch said he was disappointed that information from his and state Rep. Tom Demmer’s, R-Dixon, conversation with Lausch was made public prematurely.

“We wouldn’t be engaged in this he/say she/say conversation if Demmer had not jumped the gun to put out his false narrative,” Welch said. “But once again my Republican colleagues have disrespected the process for political gain.”

Demmer did not respond to a call about Welch’s comments, but told WBEZ that Lausch’s comments to him and Welch cleared a path for Madigan to be called to testify before the committee.

House Republicans made it clear they’d like to interrogate Madigan ally and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McLain, former City Club of Chicago CEO Jay Doherty and others connected to the probe.

The investigative committee is a political function that’s more akin to a fact-finding mission. Should they vote to move forward, the matter is turned over to another committee of lawmakers who will deliberate what Welch’s group found and mete out punishment.

The only other time the procedure has been used in Illinois history was in a 2012 probe about bribery allegations against Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago.

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Oregon Republican Lawmakers React to Arrest of Dem House Speaker’s Aide in Portland Riots

Republicans in the Oregon legislature are accusing Democrats of sanctioning “lawlessness” after the arrest of a top aide to the Democratic Oregon House speaker this month during protests that devolved into riots in downtown Portland.



A photojournalist reacts as riot police fire tear gas in Portland, Ore., September 5, 2020.


© Carlos Barria/Reuters
A photojournalist reacts as riot police fire tear gas in Portland, Ore., September 5, 2020.

Kristina Narayan, who serves as legislative director for Oregon House Speaker Representative Tina Kotek, was arrested late at night on Saturday, September 5 and charged with interfering with a police officer after Portland Police declared a riot.

“Kristina Narayan was arrested for Interfering with a Police Officer after the event became a riot and the crowd was given multiple orders to disperse, which she did not do,” a Portland police department spokesperson said.

Narayan, 29, has worked for Kotek since September, 2016 and has served as the House speaker’s legislative director since May, 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Republican state lawmakers in Oregon criticized their colleagues across the aisle for declining to denounce the ongoing nightly violence wracking Portland, and accused Democratic lawmakers of protecting their staffers and supporters who participate in the riots.

“The Democrat supermajority in Oregon have had instances where their publicly-employed staff have been involved in the violent riots and looting in downtown Portland,” said GOP state Senator Dennis Linthicum, who represents the southeast city of Klamath Falls.

“Knowing this, it becomes obvious why Democrats in Oregon and across the nation have not stood up for law enforcement and condemned the lawlessness in the streets because within these Democrat-controlled cities — they would be alienating their own staff members who are participating in the riots,” Linthicum said.

Republican Oregon Senator Alan Olsen agreed, adding that Democratic lawmakers in the state “despise” the very police protecting them.

“Oregon Democrats are the party of lawlessness because instead of denouncing the violence, they largely have remained silent. The top Democrat leaders are protected by the police but despise and have absolute animosity towards them,” said Olsen, who represents Canby, a city just south of Portland.

“It’s obvious that Oregon Democrats are protecting their own extremist staffers and supporters over innocent Oregonians who are the collateral damage of over 100 days of violence,” Olsen added.

Narayan’s arrest came a week after pro-Trump demonstrator Aaron Danielson was fatally shot in the chest during clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and a caravan of pro-Trump demonstrators who drove through the streets of downtown Portland. Two days later, Portland Police declared a riot after about 200 demonstrators marched to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s residence to demand that he resign as violent demonstrations continue to rock the city.

Kotek’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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House lawmakers ask for probe into Russian poisoning case



FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 file photo Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a rally to support political prisoners in Moscow, Russia. The German hospital treating Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has been taking out of an induced coma and is responsive. Berlin's Charite hospital said Monday that Navalny's condition has further improved, allowing doctors to end the medically induced coma and gradually ease him off mechanical ventilation. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 file photo Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a rally to support political prisoners in Moscow, Russia. The German hospital treating Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has been taking out of an induced coma and is responsive. Berlin’s Charite hospital said Monday that Navalny’s condition has further improved, allowing doctors to end the medically induced coma and gradually ease him off mechanical ventilation. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Democrat and the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are together calling on President Donald Trump to investigate whether chemical weapons were used by Russia in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told Trump in a letter Monday that they are “deeply concerned” by reports that Navalny was poisoned in August with a chemical nerve agent. The two lawmakers are pushing for a formal U.S. investigation into whether Russia violated international law or used a lethal weapon against one of its own nationals — a request they say triggers a required 60-day evaluation period under U.S. chemical weapons law.



FILE - In this July 20, 2019, file photo, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny gestures while speaking to a crowd during a political protest in Moscow, Russia. The German hospital treating Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has been taken out of an induced coma and is responsive. German experts say Navalny, who fell ill Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia, was poisoned with a substance belonging to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.  (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this July 20, 2019, file photo, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny gestures while speaking to a crowd during a political protest in Moscow, Russia. The German hospital treating Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has been taken out of an induced coma and is responsive. German experts say Navalny, who fell ill Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia, was poisoned with a substance belonging to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

Navalny, a high-profile critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany last month after falling ill on an airplane flight in Russia. German chemical weapons experts say tests showed the 44-year-old was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent.

Engel and McCaul urged Trump to enact additional sanctions on Russia if it’s determined that chemical weapons were used against Navalny.

“Those responsible for this despicable attack must be held accountable, and Russian President Vladimir Putin must know that he and his cronies will not be allowed to violate international law with impunity,” the two men wrote.

The administration has not yet responded to the request. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany last week called the poisoning “completely reprehensible” and said the U.S. was “working with our allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable.”

Navalny has been taken out of an induced coma and is improving, the German hospital treating him said Monday. Doctors said it was too soon to say what long-term effects he may have suffered.

The German authorities said last week that tests showed “proof without doubt” that Navalny was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent. British authorities identified the Soviet-era Novichok agent as the same poison used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in

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Lawmakers hope Ohio voters won’t notice they’ve done nothing about House Bill 6

Ohio’s Republican-run House and Senate returned to the Statehouse Tuesday and said, in so many words, they need more time to think about repealing the $60 million Ohio purchase – House Bill 6. It requires Ohio electricity consumers to bail out two nuclear power plants.

State legislators seem to think they know better than voters do what’s good for Ohioans. That’s the same patronizing attitude that got HB 6 passed last year. When working Ohioans want something, the General Assembly’s reply always seems to be, “What’s the big rush?” But when the Powers That Be want something, General Assembly’s reply always seems to be, “Yes, sir!”

The U.S. attorney’s office for Southern Ohio has called HB 6 a “racketeering conspiracy involving approximately $60 million … to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.” That alleged conspiracy led a federal grand jury to indict Republican ex-House Speaker Larry Householder, of Perry County’s Glenford, and four other Ohio political figures. Householder and the others are presumed innocent unless convicted.

HB 6 requires Ohio electricity consumers to bail out the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants, once owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., plus two coal-fueled power plants owned by a group of utilities, including FirstEnergy and American Electric Power Co.

New House Speaker Robert Cupp, a Lima Republican, sent proposed HB 6 repeals to a new House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight. Otherwise, the repeal bills might have landed in one of two standing committees: Public Utilities (chaired by Rep. Jamie Callender, a Lake County Republican who co-sponsored HB 6; the Perry nuclear plant is in his district), or Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Nino Vitale, an Urbana Republican with a zest for publicity.

Northeast Ohio Republicans whom Cupp named to the special House HB 6 committee are Rep. Mark Romanchuck, of Mansfield, who’s running for an open Senate seat that represents Medina and Ashland counties; and fellow GOP Reps. Dick Stein, of Norwalk, and Scott Wiggam, of Wooster. Romanchuck voted “no” on HB 6 last year; Stein and Wiggam voted “yes.”

Northeast Ohio Democrats Cupp named to the HB 6 committee are Reps. Kent Smith, of Euclid, and Casey Weinstein, of Hudson. They both voted “no” on HB 6 last year.

The state Senate’s HB 6 repeal bills were sent to the Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee, chaired by Republican Sen. Steve Wilson, a Warren County banker. Wilson said in July that Householder had “breached the trust of Ohioans” but that HB 6 “was good public policy for the future of energy in our state, [and] I was proud to work on it.” Questions, ratepayers?

Perhaps General Assembly Republicans who voted for HB 6 – 42 of the House’s 61 Republicans, 16 of the Senate’s 24 Republicans – may bet the presidential campaign will distract anti-HB 6 voters. A presidential winner can bolster his or her party at the Statehouse. When President Donald Trump carried Ohio in 2016, Republicans captured 66 Ohio House seats, their post-1966

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