Waters vows action to avert 'unaffordable' premium hikes blamed on flood insurance bill
The co-author of legislation that Louisiana officials say is leading to significant hikes in federal flood insurance premiums promised Saturday to work with congressional colleagues and the Obama administration officials to resolve the problem.
"As one of the primary authors of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and a longtime advocate for the people of southern Louisiana, I can state that it was never the intent of Congress to impose the types of punitive and unaffordable flood insurance premiums that residents of southern Louisiana are currently facing," said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. "I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to solve this problem."
At issue is the 2012 flood insurance reauthorization bill approved by Congress last year that phases out some subsidized flood insurance rates, allowing rate increases, depending on the property, of either 20 percent a year, or 25 percent, until properties reach actuarial status. The legislation was intended to make the debt-ridden flood insurance program fiscally sound.
The issue is complicated, the Louisiana officials said, by new Federal Emergency Management Agency maps that consider properties not protected by 100-year flood federal levees inadequately safeguarded against floods, making them significantly higher risks for purposes of calculating rates.
Those officials got good news Thursday during a meeting with David Miller, the associate administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. He promised that FEMA would redo flood-risk maps to include locally built levees.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has an amendment pending that would delay the premium increases authorized by the Biggert-Waters legislation for a year to give Congress a chance to fix a problem she said is leading to unaffordable premium increases. She wants to add the amendment to a pending water resources bill.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a co-sponsor of the Landrieu amendment and one of the authors of the water resources bill, said he and other senators are looking for a way to resolve a congressional mandate to offset all legislation that can add to the federal deficit.