Homeowners Rights & Issues

U.S. House overwhelmingly passes flood insurance relief bill

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday night voted to undo major provisions of a 2012 law that has caused sharp flood insurance rate increases, signaling possible relief after months of rising tension among home­owners in Florida and other states.

The bill would eliminate a provision of the law that said government-subsidized rates disappear when a person sells a primary home; provide a refund for those who already got hit under that provision; and maintain protections due to sunset for “grandfathered” properties built to code after a community adopted its first Flood Insurance Rate Map.

The legislation still allows FEMA to impose premium increases on homes built before those maps. But the change will be more manageable, bill supporters argued, ranging between 5 and 15 percent on average with a hard cap of 18 percent per year until reaching actuarial risk.

Click here to read more.

U.S. House to vote on flood fix as early as Tuesday as Democrats embrace deal

By Charles Elmore

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Congressional Democrats say they have signed on to a flood insurance deal that could come to a vote as early as Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. House.

“I’m proud to announce that after much negotiation, the House has reached a compromise that will provide relief to policyholders from skyrocketing flood insurance rates,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., late Monday.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Cal., called it a “reasonable compromise.”

Click here to read more.

House won’t vote on flood insurance bill this week

House Speaker John Boehner said this morning that the flood insurance bill has met “unintended consequences” and said a vote will not happen this week, as planned.

Speaking during his weekly news conference, Boehner did not elaborate on what happened.

Getting the votes is a likely culprit. A number of conservative groups had urged members to vote against the measure, which seeks to undo some of the changes of the 2012 Biggert-Waters law that caused steep rate hikes. Some Democrats were pushing for changes, and the bill was being fast-tracked, requiring a super majority to pass.

Click here to read more.

Bilirakis loses leadership post for voting with Democrats on flood bill

Rep. Gus Bilirakis has been removed from a House leadership team for voting with Democrats in a failed attempt to get a vote on Senate-passed flood insurance legislation.

Bilirakis was part of the “whip team” that gathers support or opposition to bills. His chief of staff confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times that he had been removed as a result of his vote on the Democrats’ procedural move.

Click here to read more.

Sen. Landrieu says President Obama commits to signing bill to delay flood insurance premium hikes

WASHINGTON — For about seven minutes Wednesday, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she got President Barack Obama to engage on what she says are the unaffordable flood insurance premiums facing hundreds of thousands of homeowners in Louisiana and other states.

Landrieu asked the president directly about legislation that passed the Senate last week 67-32 that would delay most of the premium increases for four years.

“The bottom line,” Landrieu said, “is that he confirmed in front of all the Senate Democrats — all but one of whom voted for the legislation — that he would not veto the bill and that he understood how important it was to all of us to get it through.”

Click here to read more.

Questions still on whether state can cut flood insurance costs

TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Jeff Brandes says he wants to put consumers in control, but there’s still no guarantee a bill he introduced would bring down the cost of flood insurance.

It may be homeowners’ best hope, though, in a world where some are being told their flood insurance bill could rise from $4,000 to $40,000 a year.

The St. Petersburg Republican’s measure (SB 542) was approved unanimously by its latest review panel on Thursday, despite concerns raised by Democrats and Republicans during more than an hour of discussion by the General Government Appropriations subcommittee.

 The bill’s intent is to allow more private insurers to write home flood insurance policies in Florida. State lawmakers are acting after Congress failed to bring down flood insurance premium increases in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Click here to read more.

These House members rejected a chance to help on flood insurance

Call it a political stunt. Call it a legislative long shot.

Call it whatever you wish, but for the past two days a parade of U.S. representatives have stood on the House floor and pleaded on behalf of procedural maneuvers that might have led to a quick vote on a Senate proposal for flood insurance relief.

On both afternoons, the attempts were squashed.

Click here to read more.

Editorial: Flood insurance bill a step in right direction

It is not perfect, and it is far from ideal for Florida’s real estate market. But the bipartisan flood insurance fix passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday is far preferable to the status quo, provides temporary relief for thousands of Tampa Bay homeowners and should be approved by the House. It’s the least members of Congress can do after passing flood insurance “reforms” in 2012 with no understanding of the unreasonable financial pain they would inflict on middle-class neighborhoods.

Click here to read more.

U.S. Senate expected to vote today to delay flood insurance rate hikes

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon will vote on a bill that would reverse a 2012 law that forced steep increases in flood insurance rates for homeowners in Florida, Louisiana and other states.

The vote is expected at 1:50 p.m., and supporters hope it will pass by a large enough measure to send a message to the House, where Republican leaders have said they will not take up the bill.

“Now the question is, what happens down there?” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, said during debate Wednesday, motioning to the House.

Click here to read more.

White House Balks at Flood Insurance Delay, Agent Licensing Bill

The Obama Administration has problems with the Senate bill that would delay flood insurance premium increases and create an agent licensing registry.

The bill, S.1926, was cleared for debate on a procedural vote, 86-13, Monday evening. It has more than 30 sponsors from both parties in the Senate. Lead sponsors are Sen. Robert Menendez, D.-N.J., and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R.-Ga.

If it passes the Senate, the flood insurance reform delay faces an uphill battle in the House where leadership has said it opposes the delay.

Now the bill also faces criticism from the White House, although the statement yesterday from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stopped short of threatening a veto.

Click here to read more.