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Columbus Council Takes First Steps On Green Energy And Marijuana Decriminalization Proposals

Jul 16, 2019

Credit Ohio Public Radio

Columbus City Council last night formally found a possible ballot issue directing 57 million dollars in city money toward green-energy initiatives is legally sufficient. 

But Council did not vote on whether to place the issue on the November ballot. Council president Shannon Hardin.

The Columbus Clean Energy Initiative would create three funds overseen by local officials that promote conservation, education and training, and minority business development. The measure also provides money for people who switch to green energy providers. But city officials and environmental groups do not know much about the for-profit group called ProEnergy Ohio, which is backing the issue. Spokesperon John Clarke says the group peforms environmental and engineering consulting, and is not affiliated with any other companies or trade groups. But  a spokesperson for the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club told  Council last night her group opposes the measure in part because of questions about the backers and a lack of oversight.

City officials have said they are concerned about diverting millions of dollars from services to an unknown entity with limited public oversight. Council also began considering new legislation that would reduces penalties for possesing up to 200 grams of marijuana, with fines of up to 25 dollars and no jail time. The panel is expected to vote on the measure next week, and will hold a public hearing this Thursday evening in city hall. Residents  may also take a survey posted on council's website. Council members say the goal is to address inequities in the criminal justice system.