Governor Janet Mills has signed the Emergency Winter Energy Relief Plan into law. This plan is a short-term measure that is geared towards helping low-income and middle-class Mainers due to record high energy prices. This is the plan that the Maine legislature was asked to vote on for the first day of the new legislative session. In order for the plan to pass, it needed 2/3 support.
The Maine Senate in December voted 21-8 in favor of the bill, but since it didn't clear the 2/3 majority needed, the measure failed to pass. While the bill didn't immediately pass, it was not dead, and after a bipartisan vote, it went through the standard process and went through the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for a public hearing.
The plan passed both chambers today, January 4, 2023, in the Maine Legislature and headed to Governor Mills' desk for her signature, which she signed shortly before 4:30 p.m. this afternoon.
The plan includes $400 million for the $450 direct checks that will be sent to Mainers, $40 million to supplement the Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, $10 million to Maine Community Action Partnerships to help them deliver emergency fuel assistance, and $21 million for short-term housing support, which will support emergency housing and emergency shelters to prevent people from experiencing homelessness this winter.
Details of the plan include $450 checks for each Maine household, which will be sent out in the next few weeks if they meet the following guidelines based on 2021 tax filings:
- for a single filer earning less than $100,000 if filing single or if married and filing separately
- for a filer with a gross income of $150,000 or less if filing as head of household
- gross income of less than $200,000 for couples filing jointly
- This works out to $900 for a household