Landrieu to Chamber: Join Our Fight to Make Flood Insurance Affordable for Homeowners, Businesses


WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 27, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., met with representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss the importance of fixing the flawed Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and ask the Chamber to join the bipartisan effort to make flood insurance affordable for homeowners and businesses. She stressed problems resulting from the home sale trigger, which is the requirement that any property purchased after July 6, 2012 will immediately lose its entire subsidy upon sale. This provision penalizes new homeowners who had no way of knowing their premiums would double or triple the following year and makes selling a home extremely difficult if not impossible.  Sen. Landrieu presented the Chamber with a letter asking for their support.

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“Less than one week from today, on October 1st, 1.1 million homes and businesses could see an immediate decrease in their property values because of the sales trigger provision that eliminates subsidies at the act of sale.  In Louisiana, the St. Charles Parish Assessor developed a formula for revaluing properties based on the projected elevation costs that has resulted in overall value reductions ranging from 18 percent – 20 percent on each impacted property,” Sen. Landrieu wrote in her letter. “I share your commitment to promoting the solvent and sustainable operations of the National Flood Insurance Program, and I request your support for re-establishing essential protections in the program to prevent severe damage to the U.S. housing market and ensure that policyholders on our coasts and along our inland waterways have access to affordable flood insurance.”

Read Sen. Landrieu’s full letter here.

Sen. Landrieu also joined Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., in sponsoring an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that will delay rate increases under Biggert-Waters for one year. While she is committed to a more comprehensive solution like that included in her SMART NFIP Act, she believes immediate rate relief is needed while Congress continues to debate different legislative solutions.

As part of her continued leadership on flood insurance reform, last week Sen. Landrieu testified before the Senate Committee on Banking on the negative impacts Biggert-Waters is having on American families and businesses.

Sen. Landrieu also recently sent a letter to Senate and House leaders urging them to include language from her FY14 Homeland Appropriations bill that prevents FEMA from raising flood insurance rates on as many as 230,000 “grandfathered” properties in Louisiana in whatever legislative vehicle is used to fund the federal government for FY14.

In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed Sen. Landrieu’s legislation to prevent FEMA from raising rates on “grandfathered” National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) properties and directs FEMA to give communities credit for non-accredited levees in their flood maps.

At Sen. Landrieu’s invitation, David Miller, the head of NFIP, visited Louisiana communities last month affected by NFIP rate increases.

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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