Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

OLSON URGES DELAY OF FLOOD INSURANCE RULES

September 23, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC - Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) and several House colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) requesting a vote on a provision to follow the House in acting to delay targeted flood insurance rate spikes until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has time to provide a comprehensive solution that reforms the flood insurance program without risking catastrophic rate hikes for many homeowners.

"When new flood maps go into effect for Fort Bend County next year, they will combine with the Biggert Waters reform bill to dramatically raise flood insurance rates for some residents," Olson said. We need fiscal solvency for this program, but we must find a way to achieve it without hitting homeowners as hard.  Homeowners in Fort Bend have invested in flood controls and many improved their homes after Hurricane Ike but some in our community could be facing a new and heavy financial burden. That's why my colleagues and I urge Senator Reid to allow a vote to help homeowners before it's too late. I will continue to advocate for common sense solutions to this problem."

Text of the letter:

The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

                FEMA Administrator Craig Fuguate recently stated that he needs the help of Congress in fixing the affordability issues surrounding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The U.S. House of Representatives already began to address this time-sensitive matter with the passage of the Cassidy/Grimm/Palazzo Amendment on June 5, 2013 to FY14 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which would shield certain flood insurance policyholders from excessive rate increases triggered by flood insurance rate map changes. The Cassidy/Grimm/Palazzo Amendment, which received broad bi-partisan support with over 280 House members voting in favor of the provision, is a positive step toward providing a comprehensive solution to the affordability challenges plaguing the National Flood Insurance Program. Homeowners and small businesses in Louisiana and across the country are counting on the U.S. Senate to follow the lead of the U.S. House of Representatives by taking action on this time sensitive issue. We urge you bring a vote before the full Senate to provide relief for the millions of Americans that could face catastrophic flood insurance rate increases.

                The ramifications of FEMA’s implementation of certain provisions of Biggert-Waters has devalued investments American’s have made in their properties and homes; radically increasing the cost of flood insurance. In many cases, these exorbitant rate increases are affecting properties that have never flooded and that were built in accordance with all FEMA required elevations and applicable codes at the time of construction. These properties are now considered to be out of compliance, through no fault of their own, due to new or proposed flood mapping by FEMA. Many policyholders cannot afford nor will pay exorbitant flood insurance premiums; their depopulation of the program could threaten NFIP’s solvency.

                We urge on behalf of our constituents that you allow the U.S. Senate to take a vote on the Cassidy/Grimm/Palazzo Amendment or a similar provision providing relief from the rapid, unanticipated and exorbitant flood insurance rate increases. Flood insurance accessibility and solvency must be balanced with consumer affordability. The House has already answered the call from the 2.9 million Americans placed in jeopardy. It is way past time for the Senate to act. Thank you for your attention to the important matter.

Sincerely, Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) , Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-LA), Steve Scalise (R-LA), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Richard Nugent (R-FL), Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Pete Olson (R-TX), John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Randy Weber (R-TX)

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Media Contact: Melissa Kelly

202-225-5951