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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

September 23, 2008

Senator Odell is Chairman of  the Ways and Means Committee, a member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee, and the Finance Committee.

Senate District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

 

 

Help for some New Hampshire Families with Heating Assistance


     The legislature meets on September 24 in a veto session. The House will take up two vetoed bills first, as they are House bills. Then, only if these vetoed bills are overridden will the Senate address the vetoed bills. And that is not going to happen.

     But now added importance is being placed on the veto session. With legislators in session, leaders are asking us to suspend our rules so we can go into a special session and have a bill drafted and brought before us. Both bodies will have to change their operating rules by a 2/3rd vote. And that will certainly happen. 

     As I have traveled around the 8th Senatorial District and the state, the most pressing issue for many families is the high cost of heating oil. Residents are simply not sure how they are going to pay for oil this winter. Some have debts from last year's purchases, others doubt they can find the difference between $2 heating oil and possibly $4 or $4.50 this winter. And many know that their homes are not properly insulated and winterized but do not have the skills or money to improve their houses.  

(NH assistance information)

     The Governor's request for this quick action is to put up to $10 million in New Hampshire reserves, often called "funds not otherwise appropriated," to augment money from Washington for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). New Hampshire expects to get about $27.5 million in federal funds. The legislature is being asked by the Governor to add our own $10 million to the program but if the federal government appropriates more than the $27.5 million, then the New Hampshire funds could be returned to our reserves. 

   The precedent for the state to take this action was set back in 2005 when the legislature in a special session passed a similar bill. Then, as now, the effort is completely bipartisan. The bill passed in 2005 on a voice vote and sentiment for a similar stance appears strong in 2008. 

     Nearly $2 million in other funds, under the proposed legislation, will also be made available to pursue an aggressive winterization program. The state will partner with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Community Action Agencies and non-profit volunteers to expand this effort across the state. 

    The increase in funding will broaden the scope of the state's existing program including installing window coverings, water heat wraps, shutting storm windows, removing AC units, installing fluorescent light bulbs, air sealing, insulation and putting in programmable thermostats. 

     Families qualify for LIHEAP and winterization programs based upon family income. The place to go for information is www.staywarmnh.org or go to the state's homepage, www.nh.gov. In Cheshire and Sullivan Counties, Southwestern Community Services is the agency delivering LIHEAP and weatherization programs. You can reach them in Claremont at 542-9528 and in Keene at 352-7512. Lake Sunapee region residents should call 456-2207.

* * *

     The power of an idea. Touch a Truck, a benefit for the senior class at Stevens High School in Claremont, was a huge success last Saturday. With more than 30 trucks and vehicles, including the DART helicopter, police cars, fire trucks, jeeps, antique cars, wreckers and much more, hundreds of children in tow with grandparents and parents "touched" the vehicles and many had there pictures taken. A great idea well executed and with perfect weather, a wonderful way to raise money for a good cause.

     The same was true in Sunapee Harbor on Sunday. The annual Chowder Challenge was clearly a success with hundreds of happy participants trying the various chowders offered. It seemed as if everyone had a smile, reflecting possibly the excellence of the chowder, the fun of being involved with family and friends, and simply enjoying a beautiful New Hampshire September day.

Bob Odell
State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com


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