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  Thursday August 21st, 2014    

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Heating assistance for Minnesotans approved (03/03/2014)
By
From: Sen. Jeremy Miller

(R) Winona

As we are all well aware, Minnesota is currently experiencing a miserably cold and long winter. Many Minnesota families, who heat their homes with propane, and farmers, who use propane to dry crops and keep livestock warm, are feeling the impact of the propane supply shortage across the Midwest that has drastically increased prices.

In the last few months, many steps have been taken to help alleviate the supply shortage and drive propane prices down; including issuing multiple “hours of service” waivers to allow truckers and transporters the ability to work longer hours, get propane to customers and keep supply at an appropriate level. The Department of Commerce also recently expanded The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) eligibility to include an additional 120,000 households by increasing the eligibility limit from 50 percent to 60 percent of the state median income. The crisis payment was also increased from $500 to $1,000 per applicant.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a $3.4 billion federal program that helps low income households pay their heating bills. Already this heating season, over 157,000 households have received some level of assistance. Due to the cold winter, the expanded eligibility and the increased cost of propane, LIHEAP will soon run out of money. Because of this, the Department of Commerce has requested $20 million in funding from the legislature to serve Minnesotans through the rest of the heating season.

I am happy to report that earlier this afternoon, the Senate suspended the rules and gave urgency to pass House File 2374, which allocated $20 million in supplemental state funding to the Department of Commerce. This legislation was critical in addressing what has become a public safety issue for many people and will help countless Minnesota families heat their homes the rest of this winter. This is a short-term fix, however, and I firmly believe there needs to be a long term solution to address the propane shortage throughout the Midwest. If you are interested in applying for assistance through LIHEAP or to would like to hear current eligibility guidelines, please call 1-800-657-3504.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or comments, or if I can ever be helpful in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me at 651-296-5649 or sen.jeremy.miller@senate.mn. It is as honor to serve as your State Senator. 

 

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