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Senate Enacts Fuel Assistance Bill
January 4, 2006
AUGUSTA-The Maine State Senate today enacted a bill providing an
additional $5 million for fuel and energy assistance to the Low
Income Home Energy Assistance Program, commonly referred as LIHEAP.
The final Senate vote was 32-0-3 in favor of the bill. The House
gave its final enactment prior to the Senate vote.
The heating assistance bill was fast tracked through the legislative
process as the legislature reconvened for the start of the Second
Regular Session of the 122nd Legislature. Normally, legislative
bills are sent to a committee for debate but in this case the Democratic
and Republican Leadership in the Senate and the House strongly
agreed that passage of LD 1891, An Act to Provide Funding for the
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, should be priority one.
Senator Phil Bartlett, Senate Chair of the Utilities and Energy
Committee, said, "By enacting this legislation, we are coming
together in the best bipartisan fashion to protect Maine's most
vulnerable citizens, many of whom are seniors. Moreover, in making
this legislation our first order of business we are sending a resounding
message to the federal government about the priorities and values
of the people of Maine."
Senator Brennan added, "The importance of this bill was also
reinforced after we invited our Congressional Delegation to the
Statehouse for an update on federal aid to LIHEAP. Our delegation
reported back that while they were supportive of boosting federal
aid to the LIHEAP-the rest of Washington and the Bush Administration
did not seem to treat it as a priority."
The letter expressed concern for low-income families with children,
the elderly and physically disabled living on fixed incomes. Many
Maine people are dependent upon LIHEAP assistance and over 40,000
low-income Maine people received LIHEAP assistance last winter.
Today we have sent a message to Washington that we will put our
people first and that we don't want to see anyone in Maine have
to make choices between food or heat this winter," Senator
Early estimates indicate that, based on current fuel prices, $10
million in additional funds for LIHEAP would be necessary to enable
Maine to meet last year's fuel assistance needs. Governor John
Baldacci is working to raise an additional $5 million through a
fund raising campaign.
A recent report from the Congress indicated that the LIHEAP program
has been flat funded by Congress since its inception.
LD 1891 will now be sent to Governor Baldacci to sign the bill
into law. Governor Baldacci is expected to have a bill signing
Thursday, January 5th.
More information about energy assistance can be found online