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An alternative to Gov. Mills' heating assistance package has been proposed in the Legislature

Paul Dorion
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
In this photo made Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2014, Paul Dorion, a driver for the Downeast Energy, delivers heating oil to home Portland, Maine.

A Republican and Democrat in the Maine Senate have introduced an alternative to Gov. Janet Mills' emergency heating and housing proposal that was blocked by GOP senators last week.

The proposal by Republican state Sen. Rick Bennett, of Oxford, and Democratic state Sen. Nicole Grohoski, of Ellsworth, cuts the governor's $398 million initiative for direct relief payments in half by limiting eligibility to lower income households and adjusting the benefit based on income.

The senators argue that doing so will direct the aid to those who most need it while reserving some of the budget surplus for other purposes.

Their proposal is at odds with the deal negotiated between the governor and House Republicans, who overwhelmingly supported her emergency bill after pushing to expand eligibility for the direct payments.

Senate Republicans, including Bennett, voted against the original proposal citing a lack of a public hearing, among other issues.

Bennett is still calling for a hearing, as is Grohoski, but legislative committee assignments are not yet completed.

And there's been no indication that legislative leaders will form an ad hoc budget committee before lawmakers begin the regular session in early January.