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Cochran backing bill to delay flood insurance premium increase

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is supporting legislation that would delay planned National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premium increases for one year.

Cochran serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that approved legislation that would, among other things, impose a one-year prohibition on the use of any Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to implement Flood Insurance Modernization Act of 2012 provisions that will dramatically increase NFIP flood insurance premiums.

“We need to make sure the National Flood Insurance program is solvent, but we can’t make flood insurance protection unaffordable for the average family, business or community. People who live and work near the water provide benefits to the entire country. A one-year delay would give communities more time to plan for and mitigate possible rate changes,” Cochran said. “If prices force citizens or communities out of the program, the fiscal condition of the program could actually be harmed and flood risks will not be well managed.”

Cochran supported inclusion of the prohibition in the FY2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that gained subcommittee approval Tuesday and was cleared for consideration by the full Senate Appropriations Committee this Thursday.  The one-year delay is budget neutral.  A similar prohibition was included in the version of this legislation (HR.2217) that the House passed in early June.

Congress enacted the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to modernize the program and improve its fiscal soundness.  Its implementation, however, has generated confusion and concern as existing and prospective NFIP policyholders face dramatic rate increases early next year.  In addition, new FEMA flood map rules affecting insurance coverage requirements and rates would suddenly supersede guidelines that have been followed in recent years by responsible homeowners in Mississippi and throughout the country.

In early June, Cochran joined Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) to introduce the Responsible Implementation of Flood Insurance Reform Act (S.1098), which would delay the phase-in period for new flood insurance rates until communities have time to better plan for them, and give flexibility to state and local governments to assist with subsidizing flood insurance.

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