|Posted:||May 26, 2022 01:07 PM|
|From:||Representative Robert F. Matzie|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||LIHEAP Modernization Package|
|Each year, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians apply for assistance through the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP). As you know, this program provides cash and crisis grants to help those in need pay for electric and gas bills during winter months, to ensure their heat is not turned off resulting in dangerous and potentially fatal situations.
Each and every year, the federal government allocates funds to be administered by each state. And even though this funding is annual, Pennsylvania makes a policy decision each year not to utilize all of the funds, but to hold a portion back for the next year. Some years this is $10 million. But this year, the amount that the Commonwealth will not spend is estimated to be between $50 and $100 million. This is unconscionable. We all have constituents who will continue to need help, especially this year as inflation and gas prices continue to rise.
Earlier this spring, the Administration decided to extend the application period for LIHEAP two weeks from May 6 to May 20. While this helped, it is not enough. The Department of Human Services must do a better job of driving out LIHEAP money to those in need. And I have a package of bills that will help do just that.
Please join me in supporting those Pennsylvanians in need by signing on to these important pieces of legislation.
Introduced as HB2691
|Description:||This bill simply would require the Department of Human Services to expend all of the federal money it receives from the federal government annually.
Introduced as HB2692
|Description:||This bill would codify the make-up of the LIHEAP Advisory Council and add legislative appointments to the Council.
Introduced as HB2693
|Description:||This bill would create the Retail Electric and Gas Customer Assistance program to use $500 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to assist electric and gas customers with accounts in arrears, during the Covid pandemic, to pay down their accounts.
Introduced as HB2694
|Description:||This bill would create a new LIHEAP program in Pennsylvania that is open year-round to also assist with summer cooling. The bill would be funded by the current federal appropriation along with a supplemental state appropriation to make up the difference. There are currently 11 other states with year-round LIHEAP programs.
Introduced as HB2695
|Description:||This bill will also codify the members of the LIHEAP Advisory Council, while also requiring a state plan to be created, identifying how the Commonwealth can leverage resources to provide more assistance to those in need.