Rick Scott Calls on Obama to Hold Back Flood Insurance Hikes
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that President Barack Obama needs to delay pending rate increases confronting Florida homeowners who are subsidized through the National Flood Insurance Program.
"The president signed the bill. He can have an impact by stopping this," Scott said when asked about the possibility of the state getting in the flood-insurance business.
Scott's answers, during an appearance at the Tallahassee City Hall, remained clear of the question about Florida providing the coverage.
A day earlier, a Senate committee floated the idea that Florida could withdraw from the federal program, either by altering regulations to attract more private insurers to provide the coverage or through a state-backed agency -- similar to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said hopefully the threat of Florida's withdrawal from the program will spur the federal government to take action.
Two weeks ago, the state House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee looked at similar proposals to ward off the potential impact of the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which phases out subsidies on older properties in flood zones.
However, those state House members weren't as keen on the idea of creating another state agency.
The 2012 act calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program is run, including raising rates to reflect true flood risk and to make the program more financially stable.
Scott had previously requested the U.S. Senate act to delay the increases.
"We're a significant donor state; my understanding is we've paid $16 billion in since it got started and we've only gotten $4 billion back," Scott said Wednesday. "So it's hard to believe these rates should be going up like they are."
About 270,000 Florida homeowners could be impacted by the rate adjustments, many in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties.
Realtors and bankers have expressed concerns about the effects that phasing out of the federal subsidies on older properties in flood zones could have on the housing market and the state's economy.
In June, the U.S. House voted to delay parts of the act, including putting a one-year hold on the rate changes that FEMA is rolling out. The House also approved a delay in the removal of a longstanding grandfather clause that has allowed subsidies to be carried over when properties are sold.
A bipartisan Senate proposal to delay the rates remains on hold. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has claimed that the federal showdown over Obama's health care law has become a roadblock.
The Mississippi Department of Insurance has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to block the increases.