Matzie introduces bills to strengthen state’s home energy assistance program
Would expand program to year-round, ensure federal funds reach more households
HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Rob Matzie today introduced a package of bills to ensure that more Pennsylvanians benefit from the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, including a bill that would require the state to distribute all the annual federal funding it receives for the program and a measure that would implement the program year-round.
As Democratic chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, Matzie said he introduced the legislation to end the state’s harmful practice of withholding some of the annual federal funding it receives – a practice that has kept tens of millions of dollars from getting to families needing it.
“These are federal tax dollars coming back home to Pennsylvania,” Matzie said. “We should use every penny. This program has never not been funded – it’s one of the few policy areas in D.C. that has consistently been supported by both sides of the aisle. People are struggling and the electric bill just went up. Something needs done to help families. This can help.”
Matzie said his legislation would also broaden LIHEAP to provide year-round assistance.
“As the last few years have shown us, cooling in the summer is as important as heat in the winter. People need help year round,” he said.
The five bills in Matzie’s package include:
- H.B. 2691 – would require the state Department of Human Services to expend all of the money it receives from the federal government annually.
- H.B. 2692 – would codify the LIHEAP Advisory Council’s make-up and add legislative appointments.
- H.B. 2693 – would create the Retail Electric and Gas Customer Assistance Program to use $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to help electric and gas customers with accounts in arrears during the COVID-19 pandemic pay down their accounts.
- H.B. 2694 – would create a new, year-round LIHEAP program in Pennsylvania to assist with home heating and cooling. The bill would be funded by the current federal funding plus a supplemental state appropriation to make up the difference. Eleven other states have year-round programs.
- H.B. 2695 – would also codify the LIHEAP Advisory Council and require creation of a state plan identifying how the state can leverage resources to provide more assistance to those in need.
Funding for LIHEAP is distributed via cash and crisis grants. More about the program is available here.