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Minnesota Legislature approves $20 million in heating assistance

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

By Doug Belden

St. Paul Pioneer Press

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ST. PAUL -- A bill appropriating $20 million in state money for supplemental heating assistance passed both chambers of the state Legislature on Thursday and is headed to the governor, who says he’ll sign it immediately.

The Senate passed its version of the bill unanimously Thursday, which included a cap on the cost of administering the funds at 5 percent. The cap was intended to direct more of the money to homeowners, supporters said.

Thursday afternoon, the House passed the Senate’s amended version unanimously.

The money is intended to assist low-income residents suffering through a brutal winter and a shortage of propane.

State officials have said without the additional money from the state, the program would likely run out of money in early March. Any unspent money would revert to the general fund this summer.

The state money is to supplement roughly $115 million in federal funds, officials said.

About 250,000 Minnesota homes, mostly in rural areas, use propane for heat. But it has been in short supply throughout the United States since late last year, and a bitterly cold winter has only increased demand and driven up prices.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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