Flood insurance bill big win for Louisiana

After months of anxiety, relief for home and business owners from what would have been in tens of thousands of cases unaffordable

rate hikes for flood insurance is but a promised President Obama signature away from becoming a reality.

The U.S. Senate and House overwhelmingly approved changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that was originally put

forth by the Biggert-Waters bill.

The fix featured bipartisan

support, with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, and U.S. Rep. Bill

Cassidy, R-La.-Sixth District,

playing lead roles in making the case in their respective chambers

for the economic burden Biggert-Waters would have placed

on property owners who were required to carry flood insurance. The

two are the front-runners for Landrieu’s seat this fall.

Both passionately debunked the

notion that flood insurance in coastal regions like Louisiana covered

palatial beachfront property

that were second homes for the rich and the famous. Some dimwits

who had never stepped foot outside Washington, D.C.’s beltway

argued that these property owners should shoulder the premium

increases, some as high as $20,000 annually. In doing so, these

so-called experts ignored the financial ruin such rate hikes would

have wrought on local economies.

‘‘This legislation has long-term

reforms that help our families and enjoys widespread, bipartisan

support,’’ said Cassidy,

who was instrumental in writing the House’s amendment to the

overhaul bill. ‘‘It is supported by the Coalition for Sustainable

Flood Insurance, over 200 state and national stakeholder groups

and elected officials throughout the state. Louisiana needs

these flood insurance reforms, and I urge the President to work

with us to help this legislation become law. It’s the right

thing to do for Louisiana.’’

Said Landrieu: ‘‘The passionate

debate we had during the last two years — one that will continue — has

shown that affordable

flood insurance is about more than just actuarial numbers on a

page. It is about protecting our unique culture, a treasured

way of life and preserving the historic coastal communities that

are the engine’s our of nation’s economy,”

The new legislation caps individual

property rate hikes at 18 percent and directs the Federal Emergency

Management Agency

to strive to keep flood insurance policies under 1 percent of a

property’s total value, and report to Congress when it is

unable to do so. It also requires that FEMA ensure that its flood

maps are accurate and take into account flood barriers like

levees.

The bill also grandfathers properties that were built to code to protect against ridiculous rate hikes and refunds policyholders

who were charged higher rates after Biggert-Waters was approved. It also permanently removes the sales trigger portion of

Biggert-Waters which would have made the sale of a home that required flood insurance virtually impossible.

In this case, all’s well that ends well, and Louisiana’s congressional delegation can take a bow for leading and winning this

vital crusade.