U.S. House of Representatives announces issue will be addressed after February recess

On February 11 and 12, 2014, the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), along with commissioners and staff from Martin, Charlotte, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Pasco and Pinellas counties, travelled to Washington, DC to advocate for flood insurance reform that would address the dramatic rate increases affecting Florida’s residents as a result of the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12).

FAC was joined by County Commissioners Heather Carruthers (Monroe Co.), Larry Kiker (Lee Co.), Doug Smith (Martin Co.), Kathyrn Starkey (Pasco Co.) and Bill Treux (Charlotte Co.), along with county staff Lisa Tennyson (Monroe), Bill Couch and Philip Drujak (Miami-Dade), Kelley Teague (Orange), Jason Stolzfus (Charlotte), Wendy Nero (Pinellas) and Glen Salyer (Lee).

The FAC delegation met with 24 members or member offices of Florida's Congressional delegation, as well as majority staff from the House Financial Services Committee, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purpose of the fly-in was to discuss with the Executive Branch flood insurance affordability and flood mitigation programs, along with concerns with the FEMA mapping process, and to encourage the US House of Representatives to take up flood insurance reform following the U.S. Senate’s passage of S.1926 to delay the implementation of certain provisions of BW-12. (Read FAC’s Statement on the Passage of S.1926).

Altogether, the FAC delegation conducted more than 30 meetings over the two days, sharing a local perspective on BW-12’s impact and policy solutions to address the debt incurred by the National Flood Insurance Program without unnecessarily burdening homeowners and businesses. (Read FAC's Roadmap to Affordable Flood Insurance).

The FAC delegation heard consistent understanding and support from Florida’s House members for addressing the unintended consequences of BW-12. The bill with the most support for delaying provisions of BW-12 in the House is HR 3370 (Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013). While HR 3370 has 235 cosponsors, including 18 members of the Florida delegation, there is no schedule to bring this bill to the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance.

With considerable work from the Florida delegation, and the coalition of Representatives Richard Nugent, Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Vern Buchanan and Dennis Ross, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced on February 12 that the House will “act to protect the flood insurance program but also protect homeowners from unreasonable and unrealistic premium increases” and will consider a modified version of HR 3370 the week of February 24. Legislative text and additional details are not yet available.

FAC would like to sincerely thank the county commissioners and staff that traveled to Washington to make this fly-in a success, and thanks Doug Callaway and Brett Bolton from the Governor’s Washington Office, Van Scoyoc Associates’ Greg Burns, The Ferguson Group’s Val Gelnovatch, Alcalde & Fay’s Maurice Kurland and Cardenas Partners’ Carl Childow for their participation and support.