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More Money for Utility Bill Assistance

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) --
   A legislative panel approved extra money for low-income families struggling to pay their utility bills.
   The subcommittee voted two-to-one Monday to supplement federal funds, with the two Democrats in favor and the one Republican opposed. The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
   The legislation comes amid a propane shortage and resulting price spike, which has left many Iowans unable to pay heating bills.
   The bill would appropriate $2 million to Iowa's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which gives grants to low-income people to assist with energy costs. The federal government funds the program, but states can supplement the effort.
   Democratic Sen. Liz Mathis, the subcommittee chairwoman, says the additional money will address emergency situations across the state.
   Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says extra funding could be premature.

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