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House Committee unanimously OKs flood insurance bill sponsored by Kathy Castor, Dennis Ross

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The House Financial Services Committee passed the bipartisan “Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act,” one of five flood insurance related bills the committee advanced Wednesday.

Polk County Republican Dennis Ross and Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor are sponsors of the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act, which now goes to the full House for consideration.

The lawmakers say the bill would encourage the development of a robust private flood insurance market that will provide homeowners more coverage options and lower costs.

“Currently, many homeowners in Florida and across the country face unaffordable flood insurance premiums and a lack of coverage options, largely due to burdensome federal regulatory barriers that give the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) a harmful monopoly over flood insurance policies,” said Ross. “The Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act will greatly benefit consumers in flood prone areas because it will remove these unnecessary barriers and allow more private flood insurers to enter the market, which will lead to increased competition and more affordable, comprehensive policies.

“Giving consumers options will ultimately hold the NFIP accountable for affordability, quality flood maps and service. I am proud this bill is moving forward with strong, bipartisan efforts and I thank Rep. Castor and my committee colleagues for supporting this important legislation.

“I am proud this bill is moving forward with strong, bipartisan efforts and I thank Rep. Castor and my committee colleagues for supporting this important legislation.”

“Families, homeowners, and small-business owners across Florida deserve financial stability, peace of mind and less confusion when it comes to flood insurance,” said Castor.  “This bipartisan legislation is an important step towards a much-needed alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program. Competition can bring lower prices and relief from the flood insurance rate increases that threaten hardworking families and small businesses. In the previous Congress, Floridians led the way to a bipartisan flood insurance fix, and I was proud to join with Rep. Ross to lead the charge, then as I am today.

“This bill will provide sound solutions for my Tampa Bay neighbors and protect them from unreasonable flood insurance rate hikes. This is particularly important given NOAA’s recent warnings to brace for an above-average hurricane season.”

The committee passed four other bills, including the National Flood Insurance Program Administrative Reform Act of 2017, which seeks to make administrative changes to the NFIP to increase fairness and accuracy, and decrease taxpayer risk.

They also passed two bills introduced by Missouri Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer: The Taxpayer Exposure Mitigation Act of 2017, which would enable the NFIP to engage in private-sector risk transfer deals and would allow the development of private or community flood maps as an alternative to NFIP’s outdated maps. HR 2565 would require the NFIP to study how it uses replacement costs in setting premiums.

And by voice vote, the committee approved a bill by California Republican Ed Royce to amend the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to ensure community accountability for areas repeatedly damaged by floods.

The flurry of legislation comes as the federal-government-managed NFIP is set to expire at the end of September, offering policymakers a chance to rethink the program, which is $25 billion in debt.

Local Realtors are closely tracking the various bills, including Brandi Gabbard of Smith & Associates in St. Petersburg. She is also running for City Council this year.

“The National Association of Realtors along with many other groups are focused on getting a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program and avoiding the unintended consequences and surprises many homeowners experienced following the passage of Biggert-Waters in 2012,” Gabbard says. “There are a number of different bills moving through the House and Senate and we are pleased that the Florida delegation is actively engaged in trying to make sure the interests of Floridians are represented in the debate. This is an incredibly important issue to Pinellas County residents specifically.

“I will continue to fight for good policy that works in their favor and to make sure this vital program does not lapse on Sept. 30.”

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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