On Tuesday, State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) sent a letter to Jim Huston, Chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), asking the IURC to indefinitely extend the utility shutoff moratorium. The current hold on utility shut-offs ends on June 30, with no indication of the possibility of extension.
With the unemployment rate the highest since the Great Depression, many families continue to deal with economic hardship even as the state continues to reopen. Delays in unemployment insurance payouts continue, and some Hoosiers still have not seen their proper payouts even weeks after applying for benefits. Until the pandemic-induced economic downturn is alleviated, many Hoosier families will continue to live in fear of having their utilities abruptly shut off because they can’t afford regular bills.
The contents of Sen. Breaux’s letter can be found below:
Dear Chairman Huston,
Thank you for your response to my previous letter dated May 26th. I appreciate the IURC’s commitment to transparency and public participation in the matter of Cause Number 45380. I am following up to urge the IURC to extend indefinitely the moratorium on utility shutoffs, which expires on June 30th.
As State Senator, the well-being of my constituents is my number one priority. Because of the pandemic, many of my constituents have experienced numerous uncertainties over the last several months. Thankfully, because of the moratorium on utility shutoffs, they have not had to worry about their utilities being disconnected.
While Indiana is on track to reopen all parts of the economy in the next few weeks, the long-term economic effects of this pandemic still persist. The Federal Reserve reported that 40% of Americans with annual income under $40,000 lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and a study by Pew Research Center found that minorities were the hardest hit of this group, with 70% of minorities indicating they do not have a three month emergency fund.
I continue to see the need for an extended shutoff moratorium right here in my district. Many of my constituents who reached out to my office for assistance have just recently received the unemployment relief they are entitled to from DWD, while others are still awaiting the benefits they applied for months ago. These constituents deserve access to water and electricity, and should not be punished for circumstances that are outside of their control.
It is clear to me that it is far too soon to allow utility companies to begin disconnecting consumers’ utilities. I strongly urge the IURC to extend the shutoff moratorium for as long as necessary for Hoosiers to get back on their feet.
I look forward to your prompt response to this request.
Jean D. Breaux
Assistant Minority Leader
Indiana Senate District 34