A tax or not a tax? That is the question that could sink opposition to Ohio's nuclear bailout

COLUMBUS – "When Ohio lawmakers approved a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear plants, they bristled at one word that opponents of the subsidies used repeatedly: tax. 

'I heard a lot about a tax,' Green Township Rep. Bill Seitz said. 'I do believe in being precise. Not one word in this bill creates any tax of any kind whatsoever.'

That was then.

This is now: in an effort to halt a ballot challenge, a Columbus attorney is calling the nuclear subsidies a new tax on Ohioans.

That's because taxes are not subject to a veto referendum, the method opponents hope to use to stop the legislation from taking effect.

House Bill 6, which adds fees on ratepayers' bills for nuclear plants while slashing incentivizes for renewable energy and energy efficiency, meets all the requirements of a tax, wrote attorney John Zeiger in an Aug. 1 letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. 

'The charges levied under H.B. 6 are imposed by the legislature, upon a broad class of parties and for a public purpose,' he wrote.

Zeiger asked Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to reject the referendum. Zeiger, known for helping to disqualify the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate in 2014, did not say in the letter whom he represented."

– Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer

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