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Snyder signs bills to keep Michigan citizens warm

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation that will help keep the heat on for thousands of Michigan households this winter season. The three bills signed begin addressing the funding issues related to the Low Income and Energy Efficiency Fund (LIEEF) and passed both chambers of the Legislature with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

"Maintaining the health and wellbeing of every citizen in this state is of utmost importance. This legislation helps ensure a short-term fix as we continue working toward a sustainable, longer-term solution," said Snyder.

Senate Bill 864, sponsored by state Sen. Howard Walker, creates the one-time Vulnerable Household Warmth Fund, a $58 million dollar fund that replaces the LIEEF. This will provide monies to pay energy bills for Michigan households that would otherwise be shut off. Those earning 60 percent of the state's median income qualify, with a focus on households containing young children, seniors or citizens with disabilities. 

This new fund consists of dollars appropriated by S.B. 364, sponsored by state Sen. Roger Kahn. This bill appropriates $35 million to the Michigan Department of Human Services, and $23 million to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for their distribution to various social service non-profit organizations that provide heating assistance to citizens throughout the state, including the Salvation Army.

"Michigan's leadership effectively worked together toward resolving our state's heating assistance crisis. The Salvation Army is grateful to have this critical safety net for thousands of vulnerable households," said Major Thomas Bowers, divisional commander for the Salvation Army.

Gov. Snyder also signed H.B. 5190, sponsored by state Rep. Ken Horn, eliminating the LIEFF and will govern how the refund of these dollars will be distributed. A total of approximately $48 million that was collected under the old LIEEF mechanism will be refunded to businesses and residents utilizing DTE, Consumers and MichCon utilities.

Senate Bills 864 and 364 are now Public Acts 274 and 275 of 2011. H.B. 5190 is now P.A. 276 of 2011.