Driven by pleas from desperate local officials, Kansas legislators have created a state low-interest loan program to help cities cover costs associated with providing heat and electricity to their residents during last month’s intense cold snap.
Lawmakers sent Governor Laura Kelly a bill that would allow the state to loan out $100 million of its idle funds immediately to cities that operate their own electric and natural gas utilities, to cover “extraordinary” energy costs last month.
Cities would have up to 10 years to pay off the loans.
The bill was introduced Tuesday, had a hearing, cleared a House committee Wednesday morning and passed the House less than two hours later, 124-0.
The Senate approved it, 37-1, in the afternoon, and Kelly signed it Wednesday night.
Subzero temperatures in mid-February led to a big spike in natural gas prices, leaving dozens of cities with big energy bills that are coming due.
Advocates of the bill said some cities could face bankruptcy without help.