U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Mark Pryor (D-AR) Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) worked today to prevent a proposal that would unfairly mandate flood insurance for anyone living near a flood control structure from being attached to a package of bills that includes the transportation bill conference report and a bill to prevent student loan interest rates from increasing.
The proposal, strongly opposed by a significant bipartisan group of Senators, may be added to legislation that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. The bipartisan group of Senators today urged that the flood insurance reauthorization bill be given full debate in the Senate -- including a vote on an amendment to strike the flood insurance mandate -- rather than be hastily added to the package which is expected to be considered by the House and Senate before the end of the week.
"Most communities behind flood control infrastructures have chosen to wisely and responsibly invest in flood protection. They've paid for the levee, they've paid to have the engineering and maintenance done, and yet the federal government wants to force citizens to buy flood insurance. It really hits our rural areas hard, putting costly and unnecessary burdens on the small businesses, farmers and families in these communities. That is why it is vital to these communities that we remove this arbitrarily written, unfair and overreaching language from the reauthorization," said Boozman.
"It doesn't make sense to ignore the best levee system in the world and instead force thousands of families to pay for unnecessary flood insurance just to fill FEMA's coffers," Pryor said. "This move is bad for the wallet and is a step in the wrong direction for the economy."
"It seems like we are constantly fighting attempts to mandate flood insurance for residents and businesses in the Metro East," said Durbin. "This most recent proposal completely ignores the investment that communities across the country have made to make sure their levees are sound and that their town won't experience a flood. This is a bad move and it deserves proper debate on the Senate floor. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate and Congressman Costello in the House to ensure Illinoisans are protected without being burdened by unreasonable insurance mandates."
"We should not force homeowners who live in communities that have safe levee systems into the National Flood Insurance Program," a spokesman for Sen. Kirk said. "To do so would amount to a double-tax on the Metro East, which made the responsible decision to invest in its levee infrastructure. It is our hope that this common-sense policy is included in any flood insurance legislation that becomes law."
Durbin, Kirk and Boozman all strongly support an amendment introduced by Pryor that would eliminate the provision in the National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization bill that mandates insurance purchase for areas protected by infrastructure. The mandate would be replaced by a study on mandatory purchase requirements in areas of residual risk and a study on voluntary community-based flood insurance options.
The Senators argued that homeowners and businesses living behind flood control structures -- such as levees and dams -- are already paying for flood protection through infrastructure. A mandatory purchase requirement would compel responsible communities to pay multiple times for flood protection- once for infrastructure through local taxes, and a second time through government mandated insurance purchase.
Further, a mandatory insurance purchase requirement ignores investments made by federal, state and local governments in infrastructure and creates a disincentive for economic development in areas protected by infrastructure and diminishes opportunity for local revenue generation.