Following on the heels of the U.S. Senate’s recent vote to reverse common-sense flood insurance reforms enacted less than two years ago, the House of Representatives plans to vote on a similar measure this coming week.
At stake are important reforms contained in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which sought to phase out federal flood insurance subsidies and make sure that the premiums in flood hazard zones more accurately reflect a property’s risk of flood. These reforms would lessen the burden on tax-payers, make the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) sustainable, and discourage over-development in flood plains and vulnerable coastal areas.
While some tweaks of Biggert-Waters to spread out the rate increase impacts is justified, the legislation passed by the Senate delays long overdue and much-needed reform for at least four years. The most recent House version went even further and scrapped the reforms entirely.
Staying on the path to reform seems unlikely as lawmakers respond to disgruntled constituents who are mad about higher premiums. This dynamic will only change when the taxpayers paying for these subsides care enough to put pressure on Congress and the President in favor of fiscally and environmentally responsible NFIP reform.