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Senate Set to Vote on Flood Insurance Corrections Bill

DEC 20, 2013 5:01pm ET
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The Senate is slated to vote early next year on rolling back certain flood insurance premium hikes that went into effect after Congress passed a flood insurance reform bill in July 2012.

The Biggert-Waters flood insurance reform bill was designed to stop subsidizing premiums and shore up the finances of the National Flood Insurance Program.

But many unsuspecting homebuyers are finding their annual flood insurance premiums have increased by thousands of dollars a year and lawmakers representing coastal and other flood-prone areas are receiving complaints from constituents.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and other senators have been working on a flood insurance corrections bill that would delay premium hikes for up to four years. That would give the Federal Emergency Management Agency time to complete a flood insurance affordability study.

Attempts to bring the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability bill to the Senate floor were recently blocked by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

However, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has pledged to employ a rarely used procedure to bypass the Senate Banking Committee and bring the bill directly to the Senate floor for consideration and possible passage. It requires 60 votes to bypass the committee.

“I’m confident that we have the votes we need to break this procedural hurdle and pass this legislation through the Senate,’’ Landrieu said.

That will provide “peace of mind,” the senator said, for the 5.5 million flood insurance policyholders across the country, including the 500,000 policy holders in Louisiana “who need and deserve a solution to skyrocketing flood insurance rates.”

Under the current law, a family that purchased a home in a coastal flood zone or high-risk area after enactment of the Biggert-Waters bill (July 6, 2012) must pay the full unsubsidized flood insurance premium.

Those buyers would get the subsidized rate restored if the Senate and the House pass the flood bill.

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