Letter seeks to link flood insurance to government funding

The majority of the Louisiana congressional delegation signed on to a letter Monday sent by U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-New Orleans, to Senate and House leaders urging them to include language that will delay implementation of flood rate increases in whatever legislative vehicle is used to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year.

On Oct. 1, the current appropriations bills funding the federal government expires. On the same day a new round of flood insurance rate increases is set to begin.

In July Landrieu included language in the Homeland Security appropriations bill for the 2014 fiscal year to prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency from raising rates on “grandfathered” National Flood Insurance Program properties and directs FEMA to give communities credit for non-accredited levees in their flood maps.

In a news release from her office, she said she sent the letter in case the Homeland Security appropriations bill is not passed in time to prevent the rate increases.

According to Landrieu’s release, Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, and Republican representatives Charles Boustany, Rodney Alexander, Steve Scalise and Bill Cassidy along with Democrat Cedric Richmond joined Landrieu in signing the letter. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, was the only member of the delegation not listed as signing the letter.

Grandfathered policies are homes and businesses that were built to code and were subsequently re-mapped into higher risk areas on new flood maps.

“In the event that we are unable to move through the regular order before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2013, we request this provision to delay the implementation of steep rate increases be included in whatever vehicle is used to complete the appropriations process for the 2014 fiscal year, whether that is a Continuing Resolution or an omnibus bill,” Landrieu and her colleagues wrote. “Our delegation is united in our efforts to fix this law and find a way forward … While we continue to work together for a more comprehensive legislative solution, we believe it is imperative to secure this temporary measure that will bring relief to homeowners and small businesses in Louisiana and across the country.”

In May, Landrieu introduced the Strengthen, Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program Act. The legislation would delay premium increases, repeal provisions preventing new owners of sold homes to maintain subsidized rates, and allow the rebuilding of key community facilities destroyed in a disaster that lie in high-velocity zones.

The legislation has not been voted on yet.

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