Just days after his Democratic counterparts sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking that he clear the way for flood insurance reform, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, is doing the same with his own letter that has received a little bit of bipartisan support.
“We have heard from thousands of Tampa Bay residents who are deeply concerned that these increases will create a significant economic hardship and make it difficult to make ends meet,” Bilirakis said in a letter that was signed by five other Congressional members, including Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor.
Castor had already joined in a Democratic effort earlier this month that pushed for the bipartisan bill to get consideration on the House floor, saying she and other Congressional members “share the frustration of our neighbors that many of the changes adopted by FEMA are outside the original intent of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers insurance to those living in high-risk flood areas, but announced plans to raise premiums after heavy losses from super storms like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Some of the increases would’ve had homeowners paying more in insurance than they did in mortgage.
“Without legislation, homeowners will be forced to abandon their homes, putting the housing market’s recovery at risk,” Bilirakis said in his letter. “Further, the loss of homeowners participating in the (National Flood Insurance Program) will hurt the solvency of the program, and put the recent reforms to the program on jeopardy.”
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed Congress and was signed by President Obama in 2012. That bill phases out government subsidies for premiums in long-standing policies, but caps the annual increases at 25 percent.
The new bill before Congress would cap premium rates, and try to ensure that costs for homeowners in high-risk flood areas don’t get out of control.
Published Feb. 19, 2014