Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02), along with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), introduced The Flood Insurance Implementation Reform Act of 2013. This bipartisan legislation aims to improve the National Flood Insurance Program by ensuring that the implementation of new rates do not burden homeowners or slow the recovery of the nation's housing market.
“A consistent, affordable flood insurance program is critical to the U.S. economy, especially for areas recovering from recent flooding,” Richmond said. “The Flood Insurance Implementation Reform Act delays certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to make sure flood insurance rates don’t burden homeowners and home sales can move forward. The bill also makes sure FEMA is working with local communities to draft the most accurate flood maps possible – a fix that is sorely needed for many Louisiana communities. I am extremely proud to work with Congresswoman Waters on such important legislation that will help so many homeowners across the country.”
Waters, who authored the Biggert-Waters Act, said she was happy to join with Richmond in delaying it.
“The delay will give us time to ensure that flood maps are accurate and lower rates stay in place in order to lessen burdens on homeowners,” Waters said.
Original cosponsors include: Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06), Congressman Bill Cassidy (LA-06), Congressman Rodney Alexander (LA-05), Congressman Steve Scalise (LA-01) and Congressman Charles Boustany (LA-03).
The Flood Insurance Implementation Reform Act of 2013 would:
·Delay the “sale requirement” in Sec 205 (g)(2) for five years allowing homes to be bought and sold without rate increases. Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 directed FEMA to charge actuarial rates to new home buyers. This has had an adverse effect on real estate markets, as sellers want to keep their existing rates and buyers don’t want to pay new, higher rates. Under this bill, new home buyers would keep the rate of the previous owner.
·Delay increases to grandfathered rates under Sec 207 for three years. Section 207 of BW12 directs FEMA to increase rates over a 5 year period on any community that receives a revised or new flood map. The bill would delay implementation of Sec 207 for three years, allowing FEMA and Congress the opportunity ensure the affordability of this provision.
·Eliminate the 50 percent cap on state and local contributions, encouraging local investment in flood mitigation measures. Currently, while federal expenditures on these activities are counted toward a community’s eligibility for these reductions, there is a cap on the amount of state and local funds that can be included in this calculation.
·Allow FEMA to use other money in their budget to complete the currently required flood insurance affordability study and require that they notify Congress within 60 days of an alternative method of gathering this data. Currently, The Biggert-Waters Food Insurance Reform Act of 2012 directs FEMA and the National Academy of Sciences to complete a study of the affordability of flood insurance nine months after enactment of the law.
·Require FEMA to account for non-structural flood mitigation features in Flood Insurance Rate Maps. It would also require FEMA to work with states and local communities and property owners to identify these features. *Currently FEMA only acknowledges levees on flood maps that provide a 100 year level of flood protection. While FEMA is currently drafting rules for how non-accredited (below 100 year protection) levees should be included in flood maps, they don’t fully account for non-structural flood mitigation features like forests, marshland and other natural features.
“All homeowners should have access to affordable flood insurance. Uncertainty, caused by new flood maps, has for years burdened homeowners trying to rebuild their homes and retain property value. This bill goes a long way towards fixing this problem,” said Richmond.