U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today voted in favor of the Transportation Conference report, which contains a reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While Sen. Landrieu supports reauthorizing the program, she took to the floor yesterday to protest the fact that no amendments were allowed to the bill. Sen. Landrieu filed amendments regarding affordability and updating regulations for construction in V-zones, which are coastal areas at high risk of flooding. Sen. Landrieu also partnered with her Senate colleagues on amendments to address cost challenges to evaluating and repairing locally-owned levee systems. However, these amendments were not allowed to be considered.
"People in Louisiana pay a lot of attention to flood insurance. We always have and we will always have to. Louisiana has the third highest number of flood insurance policies in the country, with 492,072 policies in the state. There is no question how important this program is to families in Louisiana and across the nation, and this legislation includes many quality provisions. But I still have serious reservations about increasing insurance rates for millions of Americans without doing anything meaningful to address the issue of affordability for economically distressed households. We should take action not only to extend the program, but also to improve it and make it more effective and affordable," Sen. Landrieu said.
Important provisions that Landrieu successfully worked to include in the NFIP reauthorization:
* Codify the use of arbitration panels to resolve mapping disputes with local communities.
* Allow FEMA to continue giving partial credit to structures behind levees which are certified for less than 100-year protection.
* Reign in escrow requirements for small community-based lenders who help administer the flood insurance program.
Sen. Landrieu filed amendments that would:
* Authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a pilot program to provide targeted financial assistance to low-income households that cannot otherwise afford flood insurance coverage.
* Require FEMA to revise its outdated floodplain management regulations in order to authorize the use of federal funds to replace essential facilities within a V-Zone. Current regulations prohibit federally-funded new construction in certain areas at high risk of flooding called V-Zones. These areas are highly vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes, but they are also home to critical port facilities, large population centers, and energy infrastructure in the Gulf region. Building practices have changed significantly in the last 30 years, and it is now entirely possible to build durable structures in hazardous areas as long as strict construction standards are followed.