Release from Congressman Palazzo:

Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4), today joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators in introducing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. The bill contains a four-year delay to changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), halting implementation of rate increases under the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 until 2 years after FEMA completes the affordability study originally mandated under the law. The newly released legislation would also require the agency to address a host of issues that have arisen from FEMA’s selective implementation of measures under BW12.
Palazzo released the following statement:
“This legislation is the product of continuing bipartisan, bicameral efforts to address unintended consequences of BW12 and keep flood insurance affordable and available for residents in South Mississippi and flood-prone areas across the nation. Premiums were never supposed to change until after FEMA conducted affordability studies, took time to review the findings, and adjusted regulations accordingly. FEMA’s selective implementation of regulations, as well as questions surrounding changing flood maps, have created a nightmare for many facing increasing flood insurance rates. This proposal would provide the oversight, clarification, and time FEMA needs to right this wrong and provide some peace of mind for NFIP policyholders.”
Specifically, the legislation:

Imposes a delay likely to total four years for the most vulnerable properties, by delaying implementation of rate increases until two years after FEMA completes an affordability study, which was mandated in Biggert-Waters but not undertaken. FEMA has estimated it will take 2 years to complete the affordability study. It would then take up to an additional 2 years for FEMA to submit an affordability framework to Congress and for Congress to review the framework. This means rate increases would be delayed for 4 years in total. The delay applies to: primary, non-repetitive loss residences that are currently grandfathered; all properties sold after July 6, 2012; and all properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012.

Requires FEMA to propose an affordability framework that addresses the identified affordability issues within 18 months after the completion of the study and provides 6 months for Congressional review.

Allows FEMA to utilize National Flood Insurance Funds to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination.
Eliminates the 50 percent cap on state and local contributions to levee construction and reconstruction.
Protects the so-called “basement exception,” which allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates.
Establishes a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the flood mapping process.
Requires FEMA to certify that the agency has fully adopted a modernized risk-based approach to analyzing flood risk.

In February, Palazzo first introduced legislation that would provide immediate relief for rising flood insurance rates while keeping the National Flood Insurance Program solvent for future disasters. The package would freeze all rate hikes for one year and slow the growth of rate increases to flood insurance policies over the next ten years. It would also offer flood mitigation tax credits of up to $5,000 for homeowners and small businesses, as well as grant funding to NFIP policy holders who mitigate against future flood risk. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Home Protection Caucus which he helped form earlier this year, and was instrumental in passing a House one-year delay for changing flood insurance rates in June 2013 by a vote of 281-146. He also hosted FEMA Associate Administrator David Miller in South Mississippi in August 2013, to show firsthand the effects of rate increases on homeowners and communities that built back to code following Hurricane Katrina.

Original Cosponsors of the House legislation include: Representatives Michael Grimm (R-NY); Maxine Waters (D-CA); Cedric Richmond (D-LA); Pete Olson (R-TX); Steven Palazzo (R-MS); Patrick Murphy (D-FL); Bill Cassidy (R-LA); Doris Matsui (D-CA); Kevin Cramer (R-ND); William Keating (D-MA); Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL);Corrine Brown (D-FL); Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX); Gregory Meeks (D-NY); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Richard Nugent (R-FL); Bobby Scott (D-VA); Jim Langevin (D-RI); Joseph Crowley (D-NY); Gwen Moore (D-WI); Glenn Thompson (R-PA); Walter Jones (R- NC); Peter Welch (D- VT)
William Enyart (D- IL); Frank LoBiondo (R- NJ); Stephen Lynch (D-MA); John Carney (D-DL); John Culberson (R-TX); Kathy Castor (D-FL); Joe Garcia (D-FL); Lois Frankel (D-FL); Nydia Velazquez (D-NY); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Peter King (R-NY); Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Frederica Wilson (D-FL); Filemon Vela; (D- TX); Rodney Davis (R-IL); John Tierney (D-MA); Ed Perlmutter (D – CO); Keith Ellison (D-MN); Ted Deutch (D-FL); Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); Jerry McNerney (D-CA); Charles Boustany (D-LA); William Lacy Clay (D-MO); Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO); Steve Scalise (R –LA); Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY); John Garamendi (D-CA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).