Senate approves bill allowing enforcement of flood codes at hunting, fishing camps

JACKSON — The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill to allow local governments to enforce federal floodplains codes at hunting and fishing camps and remain in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The bill now goes to the governor. Lawmakers tell the Mississippi Press they expect the governor to sign the bill before a May 5 deadline.

The bill would remove the hunting- and-fishing-camp exemption from floodplains regulations.

The state’s exemption on such properties from meeting flood code conflicts with federal law that requires all properties in floodplains to build to code.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency turned down a request from the state for a waiver for such property.

The National Flood Insurance Act makes noncompliant hunting and fishing camps ineligible to purchase federal flood insurance.

FEMA officials have said that if the state wants to its participation in NFIP, then the Legislature must change the law. If nothing is done, FEMA said Mississippi communities would be suspended from the NFIP effective on May 5.

“The National Flood Insurance Plan had told the state that if hunting camps and fishing camps weren’t included in the codes, then their communities would not be eligible to participate,” said Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula. “The whole Legislature has stepped up for the coast, and I appreciate the swift movement to address the issue.”

The new law basically says a fishing or hunting camp will be treated like any other residence, said Rep. Manly Barton, R-Hurley.

Existing camps are essentially grandfathered in, he said, but if they ever sustain more than 50 percent damage, the owner will be required to meet the new elevation requirements and codes when rebuilding.

Rep. Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula, said it is critical that the Gulf Coast remain eligible for the National Flood Insurance Plan.

“Losing this eligibility would cause homeowners to rely on private insurers for flood insurance, which will lead to greatly increased premiums,” said Busby “These premiums, on top of those currently paid for wind coverage, would be devastating to homeowners and businesses and would certainly further reduce investment along the Coast.”

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