on May 05, 2015
A pending Ohio House bill would a close a loophole that undermines what should be a balance in political affiliations among the five Public Utilities Commission of Ohio members. It deserves a fair hearing – and passage.
House Bill 122, sponsored by Rep. David J. Leland, a Columbus Democrat, would require, in effect, that at least one PUCO member be a Democrat and at least one a Republican.
A 1982 law forbids more than three commissioners from the same party but says nothing about making sure that each major party is represented. That was not an issue until this year, when the PUCO’s last Democratic member was replaced by a Republican, leaving the commission with three Republicans and two independents. It’s impossible that was the intent of the legislature in 1982; a Democratic-run House passed the bill 90-3; a GOP-run Senate, 23-4; and Republican Gov. James A. Rhodes signed it.
HB 122 would require that at least one PUCO commissioner be a member of each of Ohio’s major political parties. A major party is one whose gubernatorial or presidential candidate drew at least 20 percent of the vote at the most recent election.