Palazzo Statement for Flood Insurance Hearing Addressing Affordability, FEMA Implementation
Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4), today submitted a statement before a House Financial Services Committee hearing entitled: “Implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012: Protecting Taxpayers and Homeowners”. The hearing was scheduled at the request of Palazzo and others earlier this year. In his submitted statement, Palazzo said:
The residents of Mississippi’s Fourth District have a unique story to tell of BW12’s financial and emotional toll on their communities. … In my district, many policyholders are residents whose families have resided near Mississippi's Gulf Coast for decades, or middle-class retirees who spent years working and saving to invest in the homes they have today. … It is unconscionable to move the goal posts on these residents who did nothing but follow the rules.
The goal of Tuesday’s hearing was to get answers lawmakers have sought from FEMA officials regarding the implementation of Biggert-Waters 2012. Specifically, Palazzo asked for justification for implementing parts of the law while ignoring others, including affordability measures:
The affordability study is vital to understand fully the impact that rate increases will have on homeowners and communities, how to address affordability challenges, and how to implement actuarial rates in a compassionate manner. Yet, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has testified that the affordability study won’t be completed for another two years. The completion of the affordability study is paramount to rate increase implementation, and it is implicitly clear in the legislative text that Congress intended to have FEMA complete the affordability study before it implemented BW12’s rate increases.
In addition to the hearing, Palazzo continues to push bipartisan, bicameral reforms with the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. The bill, which boasts 134 cosponsors in the House and 22 Senate cosponsors, bears many similarities to legislation Palazzo first introduced in March of this year. Both would institute immediate relief with delays to rising flood insurance rates, while providing time to allow for the affordability studies mandated by BW-12.
Palazzo also serves as Vice Chairman of the Home Protection Caucus which was instrumental in passing a one-year delay for flood insurance rates in the House of Representatives in June 2013 by a vote of 281-146. In August 2013, Palazzo hosted FEMA Associate Administrator David Miller in South Mississippi to show firsthand the effects of rate increases on homeowners and communities that built back to code following Hurricane Katrina.