Harrisburg, October 9, 2014 – Calling it a balanced proposal that gives struggling families more protection and flexibility to avoid utility shut-offs, Sen. Lisa M. Boscola today praised the Senate for its unanimous approval of utility reform legislation.

“I am pleased with components in this bill (House Bill 939) that prevent people from being treated unfairly or harshly,” Boscola said. “While this doesn’t give anyone a pass on paying their bill, it does give some people more options, time and flexibility to make their payments.”

The Northampton County lawmaker said she worked closely with Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) to amend several of the of the consumer protection provisions into the bill, such as a prohibition on Friday terminations. She said they also insisted that the program sunset in 10 years, which would require the legislature to revisit the law and possibly make additional improvements in the years to come.

Under the amended House Bill 939, which would re-authorizes Chapter 14 in the Public Utility Code, Boscola underscored numerous consumer protections. The bill would:

  • ban Friday terminations. Boscola said that “no one should have to wait out an entire weekend before they have an opportunity to fully resolve their issue with a utility company;
  • protect people who have serious medical conditions from shut-offs;
  • protect victims of domestic violence from having their power terminated;
  • shield tenants from termination when their landlord was the one responsible for utility payments.
  • prevent utility companies from terminating an impoverished family’s (below 250 percent of federal poverty limit) power during winter months; and
  • eliminate mandatory cash deposits for customer assistance program (CAP)-eligible people.While applauding the consumer protection provisions, Boscola emphasized that the legislation does not give anyone a pass on paying their utility bill.“All of us need to pay our bills,” Boscola said in her Senate floor remarks yesterday. “And we should understand that we all pay more when some of us are given a pass.”Boscola serves as Democratic chair of the state Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. House Bill 939 now returns to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote.

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