US Legislative Update 2014

LEGISLATIVE ALERT (01/29/2014)

 The U.S. Senate has begun debate on the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (S. 1926). The Senate is expected to vote on this measure tomorrow (Jan. 29) or Thursday (Jan. 30).

 S. 1926 would delay implementation of flood insurance premiums for four years, until after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completes an affordability study and the U.S. Congress can act on those recommendations.

 S. 1926, Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014

Sponsor: Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ] (Introduced 01/14/2014)

Co-Sponsors: 27; none from Texas

H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 (the House companion bill to S. 1926)

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Grimm [R-NY11] (Introduced 10/29/2013)

Co-Sponsors: 181; 12 from Texas

181 cosponsors (126D, 55R) (Texas representatives shown below)

1.         Culberson, John [R-TX7]

2.         Green, Al [D-TX9]

3.         Green, Gene [D-TX29]

4.         Hinojosa, Rubén [D-TX15]

5.         Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX18]

6.         Olson, Pete [R-TX22]

7.         Stockman, Steve [R-TX36]

8.         Vela, Filemon [D-TX34]

9.         Johnson, Eddie [D-TX30]

10.       Poe, Ted [R-TX2]

11.       Farenthold, Blake [R-TX27]

12.       Veasey, Marc [D-TX33]

Background Information and Why this Issue Matters to Counties

  • The purpose of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (BW-12) was to make FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which faced a deficit of $24 billion, solvent. However, BW-12 resulted in some unintended consequences for local governments, residents and businesses. S. 1926 and H.R. 3370 have been introduced to address this issue.
  • A number of the nation’s 3,069 counties represented by National Association of Counties (NACo) both coastal and inland, have stated that their homeowners and business are facing drastically increasing annual NFIP flood insurance premiums due to BW-12’s phase-outs of subsidized premium rates. According to the Government Accountability Office, properties in 2,930 counties had subsidized policies as of June, 2012.
  • Many low-lying areas contain lower income and/or middle income resident and business properties.  As insurance rates rise rapidly in certain areas, owners have two options – sell or walk away from mortgages. Since selling properties with high annual insurance premiums is unlikely, people could walk away from existing mortgages, impacting both local economies and housing markets. As more homes become vacant, counties’ property values are in turn impacted.
  • As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the NFIP program, continues to update its Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), more low-lying areas may begin to face drastic premium rate increases in the future.

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