The House of Representatives could vote on a bipartisan measure to curtail some flood insurance premium hikes by the end of this week.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R- Va.) has included the latest version of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370) on the calendar for discussion today. It includes amendments to a proposed bill released last week.
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The House bill apparently heading for a vote would provide retroactive refunds for people who have had large flood insurance rate increases due to the sale or purchase of a home, cap average annual premium increases at 15 percent and allow subsidies for insurance rates that are based on current flood maps.
House Democrats also wanted to cap premiums at no more than one percent of the coverage limits on a policy but Republicans balked. Instead, they agreed on non-mandatory language directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “strive to minimize the number of policies with annual premiums that exceed one percent of the total coverage.”
The House bill also requires FEMA to notify communities and members of Congress of remapping as well as models used in the mapping process.
The House bill’s main sponsor is Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). The bill has more than 230 co-sponsors and it has won the support of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), one of the architects of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 that H.R. 3370 seeks to unwind.
The House bill does not go as far as a Senate bill passed in late January that would delay almost all premium increases and reforms called for by Biggert-Waters. However key senators, including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), indicated they will support the House bill as a compromise if it passes and is sent to the Senate. The House bill also has the support of Rep. Bill Cassidy, (R-La.), who is running against Landrieu in her bid to keep her Senate seat.
Meanwhile, key House Republicans, conservative interest groups including Heritage Action and Club for Growth, ans some insurers along with some environmental and consumer groups, are urging lawmakers to oppose the House bill and let the 2012 reforms go into effect.
The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, however, is supporting the bill and urging its members to contact their lawmakers to ask them to vote for it.
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