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Tom M.
Republican PA 10

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  • Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

    by Representative Tom Marino

    Posted on 2014-01-08

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    MARINO. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the subject of my Special Order.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania? There was no objection.

    Mr. MARINO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to continue to bring attention to an issue that is devastating the people of Pennsylvania--across the 10th District and other districts in Pennsylvania--and across this country. It is the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

    It has unintentionally burdened lower- and middle class homeowners and small businesses. Rates have increased astronomically. Biggert- Waters had the best of intentions. However, FEMA's methodology is severely flawed, and FEMA failed to warn Congress.

    This afternoon, I am joined by a bipartisan group of my colleagues from across the country; and while the details of a proposed solution may vary, I believe we are unified behind the goal of protecting the livelihoods and investments of hardworking Americans.

    Our homes are often our most valuable assets in that they allow us to retire; they allow us to send our children to college; they allow us to leave something behind for our children and our grandchildren for a better life. These homes form the backbone of riverside and coastal working-class communities. The downfall of these residential real estate markets will be catastrophic. Homeowners will lose their total investments in their properties. Small businesses will lose their customers, not to mention their real estate. Small banks will go out of business because people are not able to pay the insurance that the mortgages call for. The communities left behind will no longer have an adequate tax base to fund basic services.

    I believe the best solution right now is to repeal Biggert-Waters in its entirety and to start again from square one. Authors of the law on the House Financial Services Committee intended to stabilize the National Flood Insurance Program, but this law has disproportionately affected low- and middle class homeowners who cannot afford these premiums.

    Although we here in Congress tend to think in abstract terms, I want to share some of the stories I have heard from my neighbors back home in the 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.

    Jeff and Erica Waldman purchased a house in Muncy, Pennsylvania. Their flood insurance premium was initially $900 per year. Now they are being told to pay by the end of last year--the 31st, a few days ago-- $9,000 a year for flood insurance--up front. Jeff and Erica are frustrated about the lack of information they were given and are days away from losing their home as we speak. We cannot solely place this burden on people like Jeff and Erica.

    Laurie and Michael Portanova purchased three historic properties in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, last year, hoping that their new business would rejuvenate the Main Street feel for the borough. Their flood insurance premium per year was $2,800. They received a notice that they had to pay $40,000 by the end of the year for flood insurance, by the end of 2013. They are close to walking away from their investments and taking a huge loss. This would also have devastating consequences on other property owners in Jersey Shore, who will have an additional tax burden if homeowners in the area are not able to keep their homes because they are not able to pay the flood insurance.

    Mr. Speaker, at this time, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Congressman Thompson.

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