AUGUSTA, Maine — After passing in the Maine House of Representatives, Gov. Janet Mills' emergency winter energy relief plan failed to clear the Senate on Wednesday.
The Maine Senate voted 21-8 in favor of the bill, but because it didn't clear a two-thirds majority, it failed to pass.
Senate Republicans released the following statement:
“After a bipartisan vote in the Senate to send LD 1 to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for a public hearing, Senate Republicans stand ready to deliver assistance to Maine’s most vulnerable people with speed, accountability, and transparency,” Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, said.
“We recognize the dire need for fuel assistance and housing facing Maine’s people. These are my neighbors and constituents who are relying on me,” Assistant Republican Leader Lisa Keim, R-Oxford, said. “We are fully engaged and ready to tackle these issues.”
Mills issued the following statement:
“Tonight, the peoples’ representatives stood on the floor of the peoples’ house and debated the peoples’ business. Counter to the arguments of Senate Republicans, the voices of the people are being heard. Unfortunately, it is the peoples’ interests that were not served by tonight’s vote.
“I am deeply concerned about the impact that high energy prices are having on Maine people. We must ease the burden by putting money back into their pockets so they can better afford these energy costs and ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are able to stay warm this winter.
“The plan I proposed incorporates the feedback of Republican and Democratic leadership in the Legislature. It builds on the nation-leading inflation relief measure we delivered earlier this year – and it is the fastest, most direct way to get help to Maine people as we work to bring down energy costs in the long term. Tonight, a minority of the minority choose to reject this help for Maine people.
“I hope our Senate Republican colleagues will approach this issue with the concern and urgency that it deserves – the same concern and urgency that Maine people have been expressing to me as the prospect of winter bears down on them. I urge Senate Republicans to join their other Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Legislature to give this plan the support needed to enact it as an emergency measure so that we can get this relief into the hands of Maine people without delay.”
Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) issued the following statement:
“There will be Mainers laying awake wondering how they’ll heat their homes this winter or if they’ll even still have a place to call home. It kills me to say that I just don’t have an answer for them. Maine lawmakers had the opportunity to take the emotional stories and desperate cries for help that folks bravely shared with us on the campaign trail, and deliver some relief. We had the opportunity to do what’s right, put our bruised egos aside and deliver for Maine people in the middle of a crisis.
“Tonight’s failure to act rests solely on the shoulders of the Senate Republican Caucus and the consequences could be deadly. I hope that keeps them up at night because it’s certainly all I can think about. I want to thank every single person in this building who put aside their differences and voted for something that would have delivered immediate relief to the people we represent.
“I want to thank Speaker Talbot Ross and House Minority Leader Faulkingham for guiding this bill through the House. I want to thank my Senate Democratic Colleagues for fighting tooth and nail for their constituents on the floor of the Senate. And I want to thank the Governor and her Administration for bringing this bill forward and giving us the chance to do something together. I don’t know where we go from here but I promise you that members of the Maine Senate Democratic Caucus will continue to fight for the people of this state.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced the Emergency Winter Energy Relief Plan to help low-income and middle-class families in Maine through the upcoming winter season amid near-record-high energy prices.
The relief plan included several opportunities for assistance, as listed in a news release issued by the Office of Janet Mills:
- Winter Energy Relief Payment of $450 per eligible adult based on 2021 tax returns. To qualify, income must be less than $100,000 if filed single/married but filed separately, $150,000 for head of household, or $200,000 for couples that filed jointly.
- Home Energy Assistance Program Supplement: $40 million will go toward fulfilling assistance to recipients.
- Emergency Fuel Assistance: $10 million will go to Maine Community Action Partnerships for delivery of emergency fuel.
- Short-Term Housing Support: $21 million will go toward the Emergency Housing Relief Fund, supporting emergency housing and shelters.
If passed the measure would have been passed with two-thirds support, assistance would have been distributed beginning mid-January.
Gov. Mills stated the following in Tuesday's release about the issue surrounding recent high energy prices in Maine, and what the newly proposed plan aimed to accomplish:
“Inflation and high energy prices are stretching the wallets of Maine people, in some cases forcing them to face the impossible choice of heating their homes, putting food on the table, or paying for other necessities. With this plan, we hope to ease the burden on Maine people by putting money back into their pockets so they can better afford these costs and by ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens are able to stay warm this winter.
"This approach builds on our nation-leading inflation relief measure, incorporates Republican feedback, and represents the most direct way to get help to Maine people as we work to bring down energy costs in the long-term. I ask the Legislature to pass this plan with the 2/3 support needed to enact it as an emergency measure so that we can get this relief into the hands of Maine people without delay."
During the week of Dec. 12, Mills is also distributing one-time payments of $500 to approximately 13,000 low-income households of seniors 65 or older to help pay for home heating costs.