House Panel Passes Bill on Government Flood Insurance Program

As floodwaters rise, House approves a bipartisan bill to save National Flood Insurance Program

05-14-2011 // Julie Mianecki, Washington Bureau, LA Times

The following is an excerpt from the Los Angeles Times

Bonnet Carre opening the spillway

As waters rose on the Mississippi River, a House committee approved legislation Friday intended to save a government flood insurance program that is nearly $18 billion in debt.

The bill, which includes provisions that could make it more difficult to develop in flood-prone areas, has bipartisan support, and sponsors said they hoped to have it on President Obama's desk before the current program expires Sept. 30

"We need to put the National Flood Insurance Program back on stable financial footing so that it can provide homeowners with reliable coverage without putting taxpayers on the line for billions in losses," said Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

The legislation would extend the program for five years, reduce subsidies and phase in insurance premium increases. It also encourages private insurance companies to participate, which lawmakers hope will lead to price increases that should discourage people from living on the flood plain, said Joshua Saks, a legislative representative for water resources at the National Wildlife Federation.

"We're going to send a market signal to people that, because of cost, they should build their homes somewhere else, which will ultimately lead to less development of the flood plain," Saks said.

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