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Morrish, Johns head for Tenn. in effort to delay flood insurance bill

Last Modified: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 11:11 AM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Two state senators from Southwest Louisiana will travel to Nashville, Tenn. this week and discuss with other lawmakers efforts to delay the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act for four years and reduce the financial burden that some homeowners in flood zones may face.

Sens. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, and Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, will attend the annual meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ (NCOIL). The four-day event brings together lawmakers from around the country who are involved with insurance-related legislation. Morrish chairs the Senate Insurance Committee, and Johns sits on the committee.

Morrish will ask NCOIL members to approve a resolution supporting the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. It would delay changes brought on by Biggert-Waters until two years after FEMA finishes an affordability study on how homeowners’ flood insurance rates would be affected. Congress approved Biggert-Waters last year as a way to make the National Flood Insurance Program more self-sufficient.

Morrish said Biggert-Waters has several flaws, including one where property built according to an earlier Base Flood Elevation is not grandfathered in because it does not meet the requirements set by the updated FEMA flood maps.

“While the owners are grandfathered, the property isn’t,” he said. “So the owner doesn’t have to do anything, but if he sold it, the elevation would have to change. Now we just made his property worthless.”

Johns said the legislation will impact any state “with flood insurance policyholders,” not just coastal states.

“The unintended consequences are huge,” he said. “We’re talking about really affecting property values with these new rates starting to evolve.”

Johns said one constituent told him his annual flood insurance premiums would go from $1,000 to $22,000 once the premium is renewed under Biggert-Waters.

“That’s the kind of ramifications we’re projected to see,” he said.

Both Johns and Morrish said the legislation will affect banks because they require anyone with a mortgage and who lives in a flood zone to carry a flood insurance policy.

Johns said Louisiana is fortunate to have its lawmakers on the federal level fighting to delay Biggert-Waters.

“It’s a nonpartisan issue,” he said. “They are very engaged in delaying implementation of Biggert-Waters, going back to the table and getting a much better solution than what the act has done.”

Johns said he is optimistic Congress will try and fix the problems associated with Biggert-Waters. A coauthor of Biggert-Waters, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., recently visited Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes to find out how the legislation has affected homeowners there.

“I think she has a much better understanding, and she publicly admitted some of the unintended consequences of the act,” he said.

State Rep. Gregory Cromer, R-Slidell, who chairs the House Insurance Committee, will also attend the NCOIL conference.

Posted By: Terri Fults On: 11/19/2013

Title: Ironic

The name of this bill is Bigger(t)-Waters? Seriously? This is fodder for Leno's "Headlines".

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