HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 122
(By Delegates Swartzmiller, Boggs, Caputo, Cowles, Doyle, Fragale, Morgan, Pethtel, L. Phillips and Sumner)
Expressing support for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and asking that the United States Congress provide funding within the federal budget necessary to continue and maintain this program.
WHEREAS, The West Virginia Legislature recognizes adequate utility service to be a vital key to the health and safety of West Virginian households; and
WHEREAS, The need for energy assistance is growing rapidly during the current recession, at the same time that severe constraints on State budgets and the increased strain on the nation’s support system provided by non-profit, faith-based, and other community organizations have limited the resources available for energy assistance; and
WHEREAS, Even though the number of households eligible for the program continues to exceed those receiving assistance, this funding has been a lifeline during the economic downturn and rising energy costs, helping to ensure that people do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food or medicine; and
WHEREAS, The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months; and WHEREAS, The U.S. Census recently reported that 46.2 million people lived in poverty in 2010, the largest number in the 52 year history of published poverty estimates; and
WHEREAS, The increasing poverty rate, coupled with underfunding of energy assistance programs, could increase arrearages and service disconnections causing electric and gas utilities to write off increasing levels of revenue due to consumers being unable to pay bills and leave families to resort to unsafe and life-threatening measures in lieu of utility services; and
WHEREAS, According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), last year LIHEAP provided vital energy assistance to 8.9 million households, an increase of 54 percent since 2008; and
WHEREAS, The number of veteran households served by LIHEAP increased by more than 150 percent during the same period from about 700,000 in FY 2008 to 1.78 million in FY 2011, which represents an increase from 12 percent of total LIHEAP recipients to 20 percent since 2008; and
WHEREAS, Congress was only able to restore funding in the FY 2012 appropriations to approximately $3.5 billion, representing a significant cut from Fiscal Year 2011’s appropriation of $4.7 billion and less than FY 2010 funding of $5.1 billion; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the West Virginia Legislature expresses its support for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and asks the United States Congress to provide funding within the federal budget necessary to continue and maintain this program; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates is hereby directed to forward a certified copy of this resolution to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, members of the West Virginia Congressional Delegation and the President of the United States.