WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 -- The office of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., issued the following news release:
U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today applauded Senator Roger Wicker's, R-Miss., support of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. Wicker's support brings the total number of senate co-sponsors to 17. On Tuesday, Senator Landrieu and a geographically diverse coalition of Senate and House members introduced this legislation correcting the flaws in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform law that Congress passed over her objection.
"I applaud Sen. Wicker for joining our broad, bi-partisan coalition sponsoring this bill. To ensure quick passage for Louisianians, I will continue to expand support from Democrats and Republican in Congress," said Sen. Landrieu. "The National Flood Insurance Program must be structured in a way that is affordable, comprehensive and sustainable."
View a timeline of Sen. Landrieu's work and learn more about her #MyHomeMyStory effort, a movement to make flood insurance affordable.
The legislation is the result of weeks of bipartisan collaboration and consultation with the business community, local leaders and industry representatives. A House companion bill was also introduced today by Representatives Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., with more than 50 bipartisan cosponsors from across the country.
The bill will delay certain pieces of Biggert-Waters until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completes the mandatory affordability study, proposes solutions, and gives Congress adequate time to review their findings. It would also give FEMA more time to complete the study, provide reimbursement to qualifying homeowners for successful map appeals, give communities fair credit for locally-funded flood protection systems, and create an ombudsman within FEMA to answer policyholder questions.
The legislation will:
* Delay Implementation of Flood Insurance Rate Increases: Protects NFIP policyholders who have no annual cap on their rate increases and have seen their property values plummet as a direct result of Biggert-Waters. This includes all homes and businesses that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area and all properties that were built before flood maps were released which could see their rates skyrocket overnight when they try to sell their property.
* This bill provides targeted rate relief to these policyholders until FEMA certifies that their maps are accurate and reliable, and Congress has an opportunity to review and take action on the draft affordability framework FEMA will develop using the findings of the study mandated by Biggert-Waters.
* Provides funds to reimburse homeowners for successful map appeals: Allows FEMA to utilize NFIP to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination. FEMA currently has the authority to reimburse eligible expenses related to surveyors, engineers or similar services, but Congress has not appropriated funding for this account.
* Eliminates penalties on communities self-financing flood protection: FEMA's AR and A99 flood zone categories provide more affordable flood insurance to qualifying communities in the process of levee construction, reconstruction, and improvements. Current regulations require a certain level of federal funding to qualify for either an A99 or an AR designation and prevent FEMA from giving communities fair credit for improvements made to existing flood control systems. Proactive communities that are actively investing in mitigation should not be penalized for self-financing flood protection projects.
* Protects the basement exception that allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates. This impacts 54 communities nation-wide where basements are necessary to protect homeowners and businesses from extreme weather.
* Establishes a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the flood mapping process. The Rate Map Advocate will be responsible for educating policyholders about their individual flood risks, assisting property owners through the map appeals process, and improve outreach and coordination with local officials and community leaders.
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