CAPITOL REPORT: REPRESENTATIVE PATRICIA PIKE
Utility Assistance for Low-Income Missourians Expanded
Dear Citizens: House committee work and sessions continued this week, in spite of the snow and cold weather. Here is a recap followed by important resource information.
House Approves License Reciprocity for Skilled Veterans (HB 476) This week the members of the Missouri House continued their efforts to make Missouri an attractive location for military members and their families to live and work. The House advanced a piece of legislation that will allow veterans to use the skills they obtained in the military to more easily find jobs in the private sector.
The legislation builds on the efforts made by the legislature in 2020 to allow professionals to move to Missouri and to continue working in their professions without delay. HB 2046 set up a universal license recognition system that allows professionals licensed in other states to come to Missouri and enter the workforce. HBs 1511 & 1452removed the barriers that impede military spouse licensure and allows them to practice their occupation as long as they hold a valid current license issued by another state or territory of the United States. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Bill to Improve Local Government Transparency (HB 271) Legislation that is now on its way to the Senate would create a database that allows taxpayers to search expenditures and payments received and made by counties and municipalities. The bill would create the Missouri Local Government Expenditure Database, which would be an easy to use, downloadable database housed on the Missouri Accountability Portal. A municipality or county may voluntarily participate in the database, or may be required to participate through a petition process used by its residents. The database would provide expenditure data for each fiscal year beginning on or after December 31, 2022.
Utility Assistance for Low-Income Missourians Expanded: Missourians struggling with their heating bill, because of the extreme cold, will now have additional help. Gov. Mike Parson recently announced the state’s Energy Crisis Intervention Program will offer improved assistance to eligible low-income Missourians.
The Energy Crisis Prevention Program, which is part of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), assists households when their energy source has been shut off or is at risk of disconnection. The program pays the minimum amount needed on the fuel bill to get the household out of crisis. However, starting this winter, the program will pledge the maximum disconnect amount (up to $800) toward an eligible participant’s owed balance.
Parson said about the improvement to the program, “Since many Missourians remain in crisis for subsequent months, paying only the minimum to keep a low-income household out of crisis tends to prolong the situation. Now, we can make it faster and easier to resolve a household’s crisis situation.”
In FY2020, Missouri provided $78.6 million in LIHEAP assistance to over 108,000 households. In addition to meeting the income criteria, low-income Missourians must also meet the following criteria to be eligible for winter heating assistance through LIHEAP:
- Be responsible for paying home heating costs,
- Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments, and
- Be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence.
It is very important for low-income Missourians who have received a disconnect notice or know a disconnect notice is coming to get help now to prevent service disconnection at a later date. To learn more about the LIHEAP program, visit https://mydss.mo.gov/energy-assistance.
For further information contact Patricia.Pike@house.mo.gov or call 573-751-5388.