Palazzo on Passage of House Flood Insurance Bill

Says House bill is both compassionate and fiscally responsible

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4), today praised House passage of H.R. 3370, The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 306-91.

In remarks on the House floor, Palazzo stated:

“Our bill is the result of extensive bipartisan, bicameral work over the past year. This bill is both compassionate and fiscally responsible. From the start, my priority has been to ensure that flood insurance remains affordable and available – in Mississippi and across the country. Our bill meets those goals.

“Many of the people who are now facing unrealistic, overnight increases followed all the rules. They went to great effort and expense to build back to FEMA standards after storms like Hurricane Katrina.

“Congress never intended to punish responsible homeowners. Yet, that is exactly what FEMA is doing as it implements the law with flawed maps and procedures. These actions are threatening individuals and entire communities. I’m not talking about wealthy waterfront homeowners. In South Mississippi, I’m hearing from teachers, veterans, fishermen, people who work at the shipyards in support of our U.S. Navy. Many live 100 miles inland.

“Our bill holds FEMA accountable and provides real, responsible relief and lasting reforms. I urge my colleagues to join me in strong support of this bill.”

The bill passed with wide bipartisan support following weeks of work by Palazzo and House leaders to craft a balanced package. In previous statements, Palazzo noted that H.R. 3370 “reflects South Mississippi concerns,” and makes several key changes to the existing Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 without adding to the deficit.

It would repeal Section 207 of the law and restore grandfathered rates, making permanent Palazzo’s delay that was recently signed into law as part of the omnibus budget bill. Under Biggert-Waters, homes lost grandfathered rates once a property was sold or maps were changed, resulting in drastic, overnight rate increases in some cases. The new legislation does away with home sale triggers, retroactively refunds home sale increases on pre-FIRM properties, and ties premiums to properties, not people. The House plan would also ensure that FEMA does not move the goal posts on those who built back to code after storms like Hurricane Katrina.

Palazzo pushed for inclusion of several other measures to hold FEMA accountable. Those measures include requirements that the agency certify its mapping methodology, expedite an affordability study, reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal FEMA maps, and establish a flood insurance advocate. Under Palazzo language submitted in 2011, the Technical Mapping Advisory Council, which would certify FEMA maps, must include adequate representation from the Gulf Coast. FEMA would also be required to notify communities of remapping as well as which models are being used in the mapping process. Further, FEMA will also be required to provide an affordability framework within 18 months after the affordability study is completed.

The new House bill would also push FEMA to restrict rates to equal no more than one percent of home values, with yearly increases for individuals capped at eighteen percent of the previous year’s policy. The difference in rate calculations could mean thousands of dollars in annual relief for South Mississippi homeowners.

Senate flood insurance leaders, such as Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu, have also expressed support for the House bill.

3/4/14