Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Mr. President. First I have an announcement and then remarks.

In keeping with the work we started this past spring regarding the status of women and girls in Philadelphia, this afternoon as a part of our monthly Brown Bag series for women and all enlightened men, I invite staff and colleagues to hear a conversation with Dr. Heidi Hartmann. She serves as President of the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research. She is an international feminist economist and is here in Philadelphia as a 2013 Scholar-in-Residence at the Greater Philadelphia Women's Study Consortium. So she'll be joining us immediately following City Council as part of our monthly Brown Bag series.

Today, I also wish to shine a light on House Bill No. 1047 in Harrisburg. 1047 -- utility companies were granted -- well, forgive me. In 2004, utility companies were granted broad authority regarding shut-offs, reconnections, payment agreements, medical certifications, and LIHEAP, also known as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This bill is about to go off into the sunset, and I believe that is where it should stay.

Some in Harrisburg want to reauthorize the bill. To be clear, House Bill 1047 does the following: It restricts low-income customers in the Utilities Customer Assistance Program from arranging a reasonable payment plan. House Bill 1047 allows utilities to terminate service without personally contacting customers three days prior to and on the day of termination. House Bill 1047 allows utilities to terminate service in the winter, from December 1 through March 31st. House Bill 1047 allows utilities to direct LIHEAP and Crisis payments using these dollars for their own general fund rather than to restore them or prevent termination of service.

My colleagues and I certainly understand that a lot of pain is caused across the City, because shortly we'll be getting lots of calls for help from citizens, most notably seniors, children suffering with health issues due to the cold, and parents given payment plans that they cannot afford. I wish to add my voice to the growing list of leaders calling for an end to this policy.

Representative Curtis Thomas, Sam Staten of Laborers International Local 332, Pete Matthews of AFSCME District Council 33, and others understand that people are suffering. They understand that if you cannot pay your utility bill, it does not make you a bad person. It makes you a person in a bad situation.

To quote our city's consumer advocate, I think the issue is the failure of the PUC to mandate affordable low-income plans, affordable terms to avoid termination, and the failure of the PUC to see the issue of poverty as an issue that should not be solved by forcing people to suffer the cold without heat. He goes on further to say that the republican-controlled SRC allows its lack of caring and decision to put its ideology ahead of reason by not seeing that students who lack heat, students who lack hot water, students who don't have cooking stoves suffer academically. There's a lot of research to prove that so.

Thus, I am encouraging everyone to call your State Reps, ask them to support House Bill 939 with the sunset provision or go to pahouse.com/thomas and sign an online petition asking that this measure be.

Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate speaking on behalf of those who most benefit from the LIHEAP programs. Thank you.

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