PALLONE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PUT MORATORIUM ON FEMA FLOOD PLAN
Bill Includes Tax Credits for Affected Homeowners If Plan Is Approved
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced legislation yesterday in the House that would place a moratorium on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) plans to expand flood zones.
Earlier this year, Pallone voiced concern over a new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) that would expand the flood zone maps to more than 4,300 more homes in the Bayshore area of his district. The proposed plan has created a great deal of confusion in Hazlet, Keansburg, Middletown and Union Beach, and Pallone said FEMA must institute a more comprehensive community outreach plan in order to properly address the residents' concerns.
Under Pallone's legislation, the new national moratorium would remain in place until FEMA has developed an extensive public notification plan so that all affected communities are individually briefed and affected residents have the opportunity to investigate whether their homes were placed in the flood zones appropriately.
The New Jersey congressman's legislation also provides financial relief in the form of tax credits to affected homeowners for the first five years after a new flood zone map is revised or updated to include their home. Under the legislation, homeowners earning $50,000 or below as a single tax filer or $100,000 or below as a joint tax filer could write off 100-percent of their flood insurance premiums. Homeowners making above that would be eligible for a tax credit based on a sliding scale up to the maximum of $150,000 for a single filer and $300,000 for a joint filer.
"New Jersey homeowners are understandably concerned about the financial impact inclusion in a floodplain will have on their future," Pallone said. "My legislation directs FEMA to create a comprehensive community outreach program so that homeowners receive all the information they need to make the best possible decisions. It also provides critical assistance to families who are hit with this new financial obligation at a time when many middle-class families are struggling just to make ends meet."
The legislation also creates a new program through FEMA that would provide grants to local communities to develop projects that would reduce flood insurance premiums throughout the community. The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum requirements. Communities that reduce flood risks through public information, flood damage reduction and flood preparedness, see flood insurance premiums discounted anywhere between 5-percent and 45-percent.