COCHRAN HELPS PUSH BILL TO KEEP FLOOD INSURANCE RATES LOW OVER THE FINISH LINE

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today voted for final passage of legislation based on a bill he helped write to ensure that homeowners and communities in Mississippi are not saddled with unaffordable flood insurance rate increases as National Flood Insurance Program reforms are implemented.

Cochran voted on Thursday to give final congressional approval to the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HR.3370). The bill passed the Senate 72-22. It has passed the House and will now head to the President’s desk for signature.

Cochran helped write a similar Senate-passed bill as part of a bipartisan effort to resolve problems arising from implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“This bill is responsive to the Mississippians I’ve heard from, many of whom are longtime residents or on fixed incomes. Even though they followed all of the government’s rules, they were facing unfair costs and mandates that this legislation will now alleviate,” Cochran said.

“The legislation we’re sending to the President responsibly addresses the unintended consequences created by the Biggert-Waters Act. The necessary reforms in the Biggert-Waters law will continue, but without causing serious financial hardship for families, businesses or whole communities,” he said.

The bipartisan legislation going to the White House includes offsets for the costs of HR.3370, which would limit annual policy rate increases, force FEMA to certify its mapping methodology, and set milestones for FEMA to carry out a flood insurance rate affordability study, among other things.

Cochran, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over FEMA, has been one of the Senate’s leaders on flood disaster policy in recent years, helping to restore the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, build flood control infrastructure throughout Mississippi that minimized damage from the Mississippi River flood of 2011, and reforming the way FEMA considers flood control infrastructure when setting insurance premiums.

Senator Thad Cochran Release
3/13/14

Wicker: Senate Passes Flood Insurance Bill
Legislation Heads to President’s Desk for Signature

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted for the bipartisan “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act,” which would delay skyrocketing price increases in flood insurance premiums on American homeowners, including many in Mississippi. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 72-22 and is on its way to the President for his signature.

“This bill will provide much-needed relief for families and businesses across Mississippi,” Wicker said. “Millions of Americans faced massive increases in flood insurance rates, threatening livelihoods and communities nationwide. This compromise will give homeowners some peace of mind, assuring them that their flood insurance rates will not immediately soar from several hundred dollars to the thousands and tens of thousands.”

The bill, H.R. 3370, which passed the House earlier this month, would delay flood insurance premium hikes until the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mapping methods are certified as technically sound and an affordability study is completed.

“The majority of Americans affected by these higher flood insurance rates are not wealthy beachfront property owners,” Wicker continued. “Most are middle-class families. With premiums they cannot afford, many homeowners would be forced to go without coverage or move away. No one benefits when flood insurance premiums lead to foreclosure.”

H.R. 3370 mirrors a bill passed by the Senate earlier this year, S. 1926, by addressing three specific issues impacting homeowners and businesses:

• Protecting homes and businesses that are currently “grandfathered” into the law. These properties were built to code and later remapped into higher-risk areas. Prior to enactment of “Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012,” these policyholders were not penalized for relying on inaccurate FEMA flood maps;

• Safeguarding property owners who purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012, and before the new rates were scheduled to take effect in December 2013; and

• Enabling new homeowners and business owners to receive the same treatment as the previous owner of the property.

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release
3/13/14