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IA Sen. Approves Utility Bill Funds

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The Iowa Senate approved a bill to provide emergency funds to low-income families struggling to pay their utility bills.

The Senate voted 41-to-8 Tuesday to approve the bill allocating money to supplement federal funds. The legislation now goes to the House.

The bill would appropriate $2 million to Iowa's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps people unable to pay their utility bills. The federal government funds the program, but states can supplement it.

Democratic Sen. Liz Mathis, the bill's sponsor, says soaring propane prices and a frigid winter have left many Iowans struggling to afford heating bills.

The program assists families with anything from broken furnaces to emergency propane deliveries. Mathis says funds are dwindling.

House Republicans have called for waiting to ensure the extra funding is needed.

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