Curry bill to help Mainers access heating assistance signed into law

Thu, 04/14/2022 - 12:00pm

    AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a bill from Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast, on Tuesday. LD 1966, “An Act To Facilitate Access to Heating Assistance,” will reduce barriers Mainers face in accessing heating assistance.

    “Between increasing home heating prices, rising electricity bills and spiking gas bills, Mainers’ finances took a major hit over this winter. Many people continue to struggle,” said Sen. Curry. “While our state thankfully received an infusion of federal money to help more people, outdated bureaucratic hurdles stood in the way of people getting the help they needed in a timely way. This bill, now law, will help tear down those hurdles.”

    LD 1966 would require the Maine State Housing Authority to adopt rules for the administration of its fuel assistance program that require local program operators and administrators — particularly the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP — to accept online applications.

    Local Community Action Programs administer applications for HEAP. The current process of applying for HEAP has created a bottleneck for applicants, with far too many Mainers waiting months to receive the assistance they need and qualify for.

    A committee amendment added an emergency clause to the bill.

    As an emergency measure, LD 1966 went into effect immediately upon becoming law.

    “I’m incredibly proud of the strong support this bill has received throughout the legislative process, receiving unanimous support from the committee and the full Legislature,” said Sen. Curry. “I’m also grateful to Gov. Mills for signing this bill into law so quickly.”