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Landrieu Bill Will Prevent FEMA from Raising Certain NFIP Rates

Provides additional funds over President’s budget for flood map modernization

July 16, 2013

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that her Homeland Security Appropriations bill will prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from raising rates on "grandfathered" National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies. These are homes and businesses that were built to code and were subsequently placed into higher risk areas on a flood map. Sen. Landrieu said her legislation is an important step to protect Louisianians from provisions in the flawed Biggert-Waters Act, and she will continue to push her SMART NFIP Act for a full solution. Sen. Landrieu's bill passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee today and now goes to the full Appropriations Committee for its consideration on Thursday.

"These home and business owners played by the rules, purchased properties that were up to code and are now facing exorbitant rate hikes - my legislation will prevent FEMA from raising these rates. Biggert-Waters makes the NFIP self-sustainable, but it does it on the backs of people who live and work along the coast. As I've said for some time, flood insurance must be affordable, accessible and self-sustainable - one without the others will not work for the people of Louisiana. Today's legislation is an important step towards that goal and I will continue to work to pass my SMART NFIP Act to provide a more comprehensive solution to this problem." Sen. Landrieu said. "Flood protection is not just about business and commerce or numbers on a table. It is about a culture and a unique and treasured way of life that is certainly worth preserving."

The legislation also includes approximately $10 million over the President's budget to modernize flood maps to help ensure they fully reflect local investments in flood protection infrastructure.

"For far too long, FEMA has failed to recognize the significant investments local communities have made to protect themselves from flooding. My legislation will provide $10 million over the President's budget to continue our push for maps that accurately reflect the reality on the ground," Sen. Landrieu said.

Last month, Sen. Landrieu announced that FEMA Associate Administrator David Miller, who oversees the NFIP, has agreed to visit affected Louisiana communities last month at her invitation.

In May, Sen. Landrieu introduced the Strengthen, Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program (SMART NFIP) Act to correct major flaws in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The SMART NFIP Act would delay premium increases, repeal provisions preventing new owners of sold homes to maintain subsidized rates, and allow the rebuilding of key community facilities destroyed in a disaster that lie in high-velocity zones (v-zones).

The rate increases come as part of the flood insurance reauthorization that Congress passed last summer. At the time, Sen. Landrieu repeatedly expressed her concerns about the affordability of flood insurance for Louisiana's middle class families. Unfortunately, no amendments were allowed during the debate, including one authored by Sen. Landrieu that would have created a pilot program to provide means-tested assistance to working and middle class households to help purchase flood insurance. Sen. Landrieu's amendment would have helped many Louisiana homeowners now facing possible premium increases.

Had the Biggert-Waters Act been brought for an up-or-down vote, Sen. Landrieu would have voted against it, as she stated on the Senate floor. Instead, it was part of the transportation bill, which also included Sen. Landrieu's RESTORE Act.

Shortly after the legislation was signed into law in July 2012, Sens. Landrieu and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., sent a letter to FEMA expressing their concerns, writing: "It is troubling that many families who continue to suffer from flooding of their homes will now be forced to pay more for flood insurance even though many of them may not be able to afford to do so. Therefore, we respectfully request that you establish a plan to help residents cope with increased costs as a result of the law."

In March, Sen. Landrieu chaired a Small Business Committee roundtable which included an extended discussion on the importance of affordable flood insurance for those living along the United States' coasts.

Read Sen. Landrieu's complete letter to FEMA requesting a delay in the premium increases.

Read Sen. Landrieu's complete letter to FEMA expressing her concerns after the passage of the flood insurance reauthorization.

 


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