ICYMI in Keys Weekly: Curbelo Deserves Credit for His Work on Flood Insurance Reauthorization

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Marathon, Florida, August 10, 2017 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments

Flood insurance on hard deadline on The Hill

Keys Weekly

By Sara Matthis

August 8, 2017

http://keysweekly.com/42/flood-insurance-on-hard-deadline-on-the-hill/

While most of the national news is focused on changes to health insurance, there is a looming issue with flood insurance likely to affect Monroe County homeowners even more. The current incarnation of the National Flood Insurance Program expires on Sept. 30 — in two months.

The stakes are high.

Currently, there are competing ideologies and attending bills making their way through the process. The first set comes out of the House Financial Services Committee, commonly referred to as the Duffy-Hensarling bill, which is actually a collection of about seven bills.

“It is not as favorable to us as the SAFE NFIP bill, but it is improving,” said U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Keys representative. “It is important to continue working on this bill because it’s the one that has the best stage for getting out of the House. But the reauthorization of the program should be priority No. 1, no matter what your position is.”

The SAFE NFIP bill is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) among others; Curbelo signed on to a companion bill in the House. It would cap rate increases to 10 percent annually and provide funding for communitywide mitigation efforts as well as low-interest loans to homeowners to make their homes flood-resistant. There is also $800 million to provide new, consistent mapping. Most importantly to the Keys, perhaps, is the promise to extend “grandfathering” of flood zones (not rates) during re-mapping of flood zones.

Another bill, the Flood Insurance Fairness Act, co-authored by Curbelo and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), focuses primarily on leveling the playing field for primary homes, non-primary homes and commercial properties. Rep. Curbelo said that would extend to rental properties and help keep affordable housing costs in check.

Lisa Tennyson, the legislative affairs officer for Monroe County, is currently in Washington, D.C. meeting with Florida’s congressional delegation to impress upon them the importance of this legislation. (Earlier in the week she and Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers attended the National Association of Counties to discuss the same issue.)

“We need to talk to the representatives of these Florida districts to rally the troops,” she said. “The SAFE NFIP bill is really protective and has bipartisan support.” She said Curbelo deserves credit for the amount of work he has done on the issue.

Curbelo said he supports private insurance offering flood policies.

“This is the only opportunity that residents will have of seeing a premium decrease. If you’re in NFIP, your premium is going to go up no matter what — it’s just a matter of how much. If we open this to the private insurance companies, while keeping NFIP as a guaranteed option,” it may be better for residents, Rep. Curbelo said. “It doesn’t hurt to try because we are keeping up that NFIP for everyone. We should open up the market and see how it goes.”

Keep reading here.

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