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The Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump's campaign for a fourth debate. Hawaii has a primary tomorrow, but there are only 8 vote service centers.

Tens of Thousands of Iowans Behind on Utility Bills

January 8, 2008

Des Moines, IA – When Iowans open their December utility bill, it's likely to be far higher than November's, thanks to last month's cold weather. For a growing number of Iowans, the balance due will be more than they can pay.

This situation is stretching federal heating assistance funds to the limit, according to Jerry McKim with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. He has tallied the numbers of Iowa households that were behind on their bills, even before the worst cold set in.

"We have got the highest of number ever reported of past due accounts for November: 236,825 accounts past due. That's before the cold snap in December."

Before the Christmas break, Congress approved a budget for the nation's heating assistance program, but it was the same amount as last year. McKim says that with more families seeking help, he has had to cut the amount each household receives to an average of $300. That amount won't go far for those heating with propane, he warns.

"Minimum delivery right now in the state costs around $600 because of the price of propane, so our grant won't even cover half of the minimum deliveries."

McKim notes that Congress did set aside $590 million in emergency funds that the President can release for energy assistance if needed. McKim says it's needed now. He will be going to Washington, D.C., later this month to plead with the Administration to release the funds.

Dick Layman/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IA