COLUMBUS -- The Ohio House moved legislation Thursday softening the state's renewable and energy efficiency standards, months after Gov. John Kasich vetoed a comparable bill sent to his desk by the legislature.
HB 114 passed on a vote of 65-30 and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
Republicans mostly supported the bill.
"Contrary to much of what we have heard today, this bill has nothing to do with climate change or health," said Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). "This is not about whether renewable energy is good or bad. It is not about whether energy efficiency is good or bad. This is a bill about whether mandates on renewable power are the best way to get to the clean energy future that all of us at some level endorse."
Democrats mostly opposed.
"Are we doing this again and again and again? Really?" asked Rep. Mike Ashford (D-Toledo), adding later, "If this is not a job-killer, I don't know what is."
The vote total is noteworthy in that signifies adequate support in the House to override another Kasich veto -- 60 votes in the House and 20 in the Senate would be required to accomplish that task.
Republican Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) told reporters Wednesday he wasn't sure whether there was veto-proof support in the Senate. The chamber OK'd last year's legislation on a vote of 18-13, short of the number needed to override.
"We had five no votes in the last general assembly on HB 554," he said. "All five of the no votes are back. And we've had five or six new members, I'm not sure how those affect that vote total."
HB 114 traces its origins to law changes enacted nearly a decade ago requiring power companies to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources and to institute efficiency initiatives.
The standards called for 25 percent of the energy to be created from advanced sources by 2024 and a reduction of electricity use by 22 percent by 2025. Utilities are allowed to pass the costs of meeting the mandates onto their customers.
Several ago, however, Statehouse Republicans moved legislation freezing the mandates and creating a study committee to offer recommendations for future energy-related law changes.
And late last year, with the latter report in hand, the Ohio House and Senate moved Republican-backed legislation that would have made the energy mandates voluntary and softened annual energy efficiency targets.
Kasich vetoed that bill, and the mandates restarted this year, but Republicans indicated that they would again pursue the legislation this session.