Oregon Legislative Assembly
House Speaker Tina Kotek
House Republican Leader Mike McLane
April 15, 2013
Contact: Jared Mason-Gere Kevin Curry
(503) 986-1204 (503) 986-1351
Kotek and McLane team up to pass energy assistance for low income Oregonians
SALEM – In an effort to continue assistance for low-income Oregonians struggling to pay for electricity, the Oregon House of Representatives passed HB 2004 today. The legislation extends work started in 2011 by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D – Portland) and House Republican Leader Rep. Mike McLane (R – Powell Butte). It authorizes the Public Utility Commission to continue to collect money from ratepayers to provide energy assistance to low-income Oregonians.
“This is an issue that impacts low-income Oregonians no matter what part of the state they call home,” said Kotek. “This straightforward step will help ensure Oregonians can keep the lights on and their homes heated during the cold winter months. I’m grateful for Rep. McLane’s partnership in helping to meet this basic need for Oregonians.”
During the 2011 session, Speaker Kotek and Rep. McLane worked to pass SB 863, which increased funds for payment assistance for utility bills if certain economic triggers were met. The legislation is set to sunset in January 2014. HB 2004 extends that program for another two years. The bill allows the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS) to request the assistance funds. Finally, HB 2004 creates a committee comprised of community organizations, utilities, and representatives from OHCS to develop a plan for continuance of the program.
“Rural Oregonians rely heavily on electricity for heating, and they’ve also been some of the hardest hit Oregonians during the economic downturn,” said McLane. “This legislation will allow us to continue to help as we work toward a permanent solution.”
HB 2004 passed the Oregon House on a 51-8 vote with one excused, and now moves to the Oregon Senate.