LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Don't leave poor Iowans in the dark

Tuesday, March 27, 2001

On April 1, Iowa's utility companies can cut off services to Iowans who have fallen behind on their bills.

"MidAmerican Energy recently reported that 63,000 Iowans are behind on their payments," said Senator Mike Gronstal, Senate Democratic Leader. "Surely we can agree that this winter's energy price disaster demands a response from the Legislature. The thousands of Iowa families struggling to catch up on these bills shouldn't have to do it in the dark."

A Democratic bill extending the shutoff deadline and lifting late fees for consumers making a good faith effort to pay their bills failed to meet the legislature's first deadlinelast week. "This issue is so important we are offering Republican leaders a second chance to help," said Representative Dick Myers, House Democratic Leader. This winter, Iowans were charged more than an extra billion dollars to keep their

homes warm. Lifting late payments for those who have paid at least half of their bills is a common-sense way we can offer some assistance. People are already being forced to choose between heat, food and medicine.

"Additional late fees often are simply increasing the hurdles these families face as they try to get back on their feet."

Rusty Martin,

Senate Democratic

Research Staff