Nofs/Caswell bills reform system; provide long-term stability
LANSING, Mich.—Bills creating low-income energy assistance passed the Senate Thursday.
Senate Bill 1134, sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, would create the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF). The legislation authorizes up to $60 million for low-income energy assistance and provides the Legislature the flexibility of several different funding options.
The fund would replace the current Vulnerable Household Warmth Fund, which is scheduled to sunset in September.
“This legislation is designed to be a long-term solution to address the critical heating needs of our most vulnerable residents,” Nofs said. “A lot of work has gone into designing a more fair and equitable system that will eliminate the double surcharges currently being paid by many utility customers across the state.”
SB 1135, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, also passed the Senate Thursday. This measure would create the Michigan Energy Assistance Act (MEAA), which would receive funding from the LIEAF. The MEAA would add flexibility and efficiency to the current system.
“These reforms will streamline the application process for people seeking energy assistance and clarify what constitutes an emergency in order to help applicants in difficult situations in a more timely fashion, thus avoiding costly shut-offs,” said Caswell. “Furthermore, this legislation will help applicants move toward greater self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.”
The package now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.