Mass.: Senate backs spending bill

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(AP) – The Massachusetts Senate has approved a $94 million spending bill that includes additional funds to help low-income families pay their winter heating bills and provide shelter for homeless families in hotels and motels.

The measure passed by the Senate on Thursday is similar to one approved a day earlier by the House. Negotiators from the two chambers will now meet to resolve differences.

Lawmakers said the $20 million for heating assistance will address delays in funding for the program resulting from the federal government shutdown that ended on Thursday.

The Legislature also backed a provision that would help North Attleborough police offset unusual costs associated with a murder investigation that resulted in charges against former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez. The exact amount the department might receive has yet to be worked out.

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