Iowa Senate approves emergency utility bill funds

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm •  Published: February 11, 2014
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate on Tuesday agreed to provide extra money to a fund for low-income families who can't pay their heating bills.

The Senate voted 41-8 to approve a bill allocating $2 million in state funds to supplement a federally funded program that helps people pay their utility bills. The legislation now goes to the House.

Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Robins, the measure's sponsor, dsaid soaring propane prices and a frigid winter have left many Iowans struggling to afford heating bills. Mathis said families experiencing financial hardships through this extended cold might not receive the help they need if additional funds aren't allocated by the state. House Republicans have called for waiting to ensure the extra funding is needed.

"It's cold outside," Mathis said. "And it's been cold for quite a while. And while we go home and turn up the heat, there are Iowans who can't do that."

Iowa's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists families with anything from broken furnaces to emergency propane deliveries, and Mathis said funds to carry out these tasks are dwindling. The federal government funds the program, but states can supplement it.

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