WASHINGTON, DC - In a press conference today with a broad bi-partisan group of Senators, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) again pushed for passage of the Homeowner's Flood Insurance Affordability Act.
Below you'll find Sen. Menendez's remarks as prepared for delivery:
"We are here to build support for an upcoming vote in the Senate on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act - a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation to ensure people can afford flood insurance and stay in their homes, and prevent property values from plummeting.
"Our bill helps two categories of property owners who have been hit with huge premium increases as a result of Biggert-Waters. All the remaining reforms under Biggert Waters continue to go into effect. Meaning the most costly subsidies will continue to be phased out, but our bill provides protections to primary homeowners and prevents property values from declining.
"It delays premiums increases for this limited number of homeowners until FEMA completes the affordability study that Biggert Waters required it to finish by April 2013. And, it allows FEMA to use additional resources they've said they need to complete the affordability study.
"Huge premiums increases are occurring either through remapping and grandfather phase outs or through the loss of subsidies for pre-FIRM properties. Those who are trying to sell their home find it is virtually worthless as prospective buyers balk at the onerous premiums. This renders equity in one's home virtually worthless.
"This is not just a coastal issue - it affects every state in the nation, which is why we have such broad geographic support. Every state suffers from floods and every state is subject to updated FEMA flood maps which will result in dramatic rate increases for homeowners.
"We've tried to reach a delicate balance with this bill that recognizes the need to improve solvency and phase out certain subsidies, but tries to do so without discouraging program participation and thus undermining solvency and fiscal responsibility. Our bill provides time for FEMA to get the mapping right and for us to us assess the impact these changes will have on rates and participation along with proposed solutions before drastic premium increases take place. We DO NOT extend taxpayer subsidies for vacation homes or properties that have suffered substantial or repetitive damage.
"It allows the annual 20% rate increases even on the affected properties, just not the additional increases that come from them losing their grandfather status when remapping puts them into new flood areas and when they lose their pre-FIRM subsidy status upon sale or purchasing a new policy voluntarily. This is a targeted, bipartisan compromise that has some of the broadest range of support we've seen in the Senate, both in ideology and geography."