COLUMBUS -- Lawmakers could be headed for another showdown with Gov. John Kasich over the state's renewable energy generation and efficiency standards.
HB 114 had its first hearing before the House's Public Utilities Committee this week, and the Republican leader of that chamber said Wednesday that he expected a floor vote on the legislation within a few weeks.
"I hope to have that [on the floor] the last week of March," Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) told reporters.
The legislation would soften standards, effectively removing efficiency and renewable energy requirements and making them "goals" instead.
Proponents of such law changes have said that Ohio's standards are higher than those in place in other states and will lead to higher energy bills for businesses and consumers.
Opponents, however, have said energy efficiency and renewables advancements are needed to protect the environment, and reversing course now would hurt manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels and other related green industries.
The Republican-controlled state legislature passed legislation comparable to HB 114 late last year, but Kasich vetoed it, saying in his written veto message that the law changes would take "away some of those energy generation options, particularly the very options most prized by the companies poised to create many jobs in Ohio in the coming years, such as high technology firms. The bill would also deal a setback to efforts that are succeeding in helping businesses and homeowners reduce their energy costs through increased efficiency."
Lawmakers did not attempt to override the veto -- Republicans fell short of the 60 needed to accomplish that task during the initial vote on the legislation in December.
But Rosenberger voiced confidence that the new bill would receive more support from the floor.
"We have 56 co-sponsors, and I think we've got four or five [additional] people that probably will vote yes," he said. "I think it send a strong message, and it will show that we're pretty firm on this bill that we're sending over to the Senate."
Asked about the legislation earlier in the week, Kasich said he hasn't changed his opinion.
"If you talk to companies like Amazon and Google and Paypal this new economy that we see, run by a lot of awfully young people, how do you think they feel about green energy?" the governor asked. "How would they feel if we went backwards as a state They're not keen on that. We can already meet these mandates. It's sort of an ideological debate. I'm not really worried but it would be a big mistake."
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.