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Thu December 15, 2011
Talks on heat assistance go into final day of Legislature's session
By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING, MI –
House and Senate negotiators are working into the evening to come up with a stop-gap plan to make sure there's financial assistance this winter to help low-income families with their heat bills. More from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.
A court decision this past summer forced lawmakers to come up with a new plan to fund winter home-heating aid. Last winter, 600 thousand households required help.
House and Senate Republicans are split on how to pay for the assistance and whether to require business and residential customers to pay a small surcharge on their bills as part of the plan.
But state Representative Ken Horn says the discussions have come down to working through details.
"We know that we need to get it done," he says. "There is a sense of urgency to solve this problem for the most-vulnerable families in Michigan."
Horn says part of the plan is to reduce the size of the grant for households, which will help ensure money for home heating aid can last until spring.
Horn says lawmakers don't want to head home for a month-long winter break without resolving the issue - at least to make sure families won't face a heating crisis in the first chilly months of 2012.