Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Measure delaying some flood insurance premium increases included in spending bill compromise

Written by   // Monday, 13 January 2014

WASHINGTON - A $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill agreed to Monday night by House and Senate negotiators contains a provision that would bar FEMA from using its 2014 spending allotment to implement higher flood insurance premiums for some policyholders.
It would block FEMA from implementing during the current fiscal year what is commonly known as Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which allows for significant increases for "grandfathered" policy holders whose properties are remapped into higher risk designations.
The amendment, which passed the House in June but never made it to a Senate vote, is sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.
"I am glad to see appropriators included this short-term relief, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the spending bill that finishes the appropriations process for 2014," Cassidy said. "I will again advocate for this relief in every relevant spending bill every year until permanent and equitable relief is brought to the homeowner."
The change in grandfathered rates wasn't scheduled to begin being phased in until Oct. 1, 2014, when the Cassidy amendment would expire. But barring the agency from spending money to implement the rates changes likely would have the effect of delaying implementation well into the next fiscal year.
The Cassidy amendment would not help people affected by another provision of Biggert-Waters, which allows for immediate increases to actuarial rates for homes that are sold after the law took effect in July, 2012.
A more comprehensive bill pending in the Senate provides relief for those selling or buying homes. It delays most premium increases under Biggert-Waters, with exceptions for second homes and severe repetitive loss properties, for four years. It's backed by a coalition of nearly 30 senators, including Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La.
A key procedural vote on that measure, requiring 60 votes, could occur later this week. Cassidy said he strongly supports that bill and hopes it will win approval in both the House and Senate.

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