On May 4, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held the second in a series of hearings entitled “Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, Part II,” to further debate the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) opened the full committee hearing asserting that by “[w]orking together, and balancing reforms that protect taxpayers and assist consumers, we can reauthorize the Program on time.” However, Sen. Crapo further stressed the need to answer important questions including “[h]ow to offer consumers more choice by growing the private market and ensuring shared risk by both the government and private sector and how long the Program should be reauthorized,” among others. The May 4 hearing included testimony and recommendations to help modernize and reform the NFIP from the following witnesses:
- Mr. Steve Ellis, Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS), on behalf of the Smarter Safer coalition (testimony). Ellis stated that TCS supports the flood insurance reforms released by Smarter Safer, which include the following: (i) “[r]isk analysis and mapping must be up to date and must provide property level elevation data”; (ii) “[r]ates must be tied to risk, with support for mitigation and premium support for low-income homeowners”; (iii) “[i]ncreased federal investments and efforts on mitigation both at a property level and community wide, so that we are reducing rates by reducing risk”; and (iv) “[e]nsuring consumer choice and private sector competition to reduce taxpayer exposure.” TCS also argued for a five-year reauthorization schedule as opposed to a longer one that would “delay adjustments and reforms to the program.”
- Mr. Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., on behalf of the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI) (testimony). Hecht stressed that CSFI is focused on “advocating for a stronger policy framework for the National Flood Insurance Program that recognizes the economic, cultural, defense, and other national contributions made by communities exposed to flood risk,” and introduced four primary policy areas that will foster this stronger framework: Mitigation, Mapping, Affordability, and Program Participation.
- Mr. Larry Larson, Director Emeritus of the Association for State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) (testimony). Larson testified that ASFPM recommends, among many other things, that Congress: (i) consider a “shorter multi-year reauthorization of 2-3 years so FEMA can more fully develop affordability recommendations”; (ii) “develop a threshold above which the federal government will backstop claims resulting from catastrophic events for the NFIP based on an evaluation of the program’s current financial capacity”; (iii) “forgive the current NFIP debt”; and (iv) “give FEMA the flexibility to offer additional flood insurance policy options and make changes to existing options without the need for extensive rulemaking.”
As previously covered in InfoBytes, draft bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the NFIP for 10 years was introduced on April 26. The current version of the NFIP expires at the end of September.