Rep. Morales bill codifying and expanding protections for consumers from energy shut-offs passes House

 

STATE HOUSE – The House today passed a bill by Rep. David Morales that would codify and extend the state’s annual utility termination moratorium, which protects consumers from experiencing energy shut-offs.

Under current regulations from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), electricity and gas providers are not permitted to shut off residential utility services during the state’s annual utility termination moratorium, which stretches from November 1 to April 15 of each year. Representative Morales’ bill (2023-H 5411) extends that period until May 1 of each year, providing two more weeks of protection while also enshrining these protections into law.

These protections help ensure people and families on fixed incomes have heat in their homes throughout the fall, winter, and spring, even if they cannot afford their utility bills.

“It is imperative that all our working families, especially households with children and seniors, have the basic utility services of heat and electricity, as they are contemporary human rights,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “We all know that the weather in Rhode Island can be unpredictable, even more so as climate change alters historic patterns. Over the years, we’ve experienced a range of temperatures from the freezing cold to heat waves, making the need for reliable utility services more important than ever. Therefore, it is crucial we extend and codify our state’s annual termination moratorium period because each additional day with these protections makes a difference. This legislation will help ensure our most vulnerable residents have heat and electricity when they need it most.”

“Solidifying protections against utility terminations until May 1st allows for consumers, advocates and agencies to have more time to prevent unnecessary electric or gas service shut-offs as there are more opportunities afforded for people to enroll in energy assistance programs, like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program,” said Camilo Viveiros, Executive Director of the George Wiley Center. “This expansion will make a difference as it will save people from the social and economic harm of having their energy shut off. We applaud Rep. Morales for his continued efforts over the last several years to address this issue and expand these protections.”

The bill now moves to the Senate where Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) has introduced a similar bill (2023-S 0169).

 

Former President Trump has picked Ohio Senator JD Vance as his running mate. Trump's announcement on his "Truth Social" social account comes just days after his assassination attempt in Pennsylvania. Vance was elected to the Senate in 2022, and represents a key swing state in the 2024 race.        Donald Trump has won the Republican party's nomination for President. Republican delegates from all 50 states, territories, and the District of Columbia are nominating the former president this afternoon during the first day of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. He just passed the necessary delegate count.        President Biden says it was a mistake to say "bullseye" when discussing Donald Trump. In an interview with NBC News following Trump's assassination attempt, Biden was asked about telling donors "we're done talking about the debate, it's time to put Trump in a bullseye." While initially saying it was "a mistake" to use the word, he continued to say he hasn't engaged in "that rhetoric," then accused Trump of using questionable language.       The jury is done for the day in New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez's federal corruption trial. Jurors sent a couple of notes today, including one asking if a not guilty verdict on a single count requires unanimity. The jury, which got the case late Friday, is trying to decide whether the veteran Democrat used his office and political power to help businessmen in exchange for receiving cash and gold bars.        The first lawsuit has been filed in Texas over Hurricane Beryl. A group of Houston restaurants are upset at how long it is taking CenterPoint Energy to restore power. They've hired attorney Tony Buzbee, who most recently defended the state's Attorney General in an impeachment trial.        A new poll shows the biggest health worry among American adults is getting a late diagnoses of cancer. The University of Cambridge study shows seven out ten Americans fear getting cancer that's detected too late to be treated. About 40 percent of respondents worry about getting the right treatment.