Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:
SmarterSafer–a broad based coalition of conservation groups, taxpayer advocates, insurance interests, and housing and mitigation organizations–supports the flood insurance reauthorization package being considered in the House. This legislation makes meaningful reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to ensure it is financially stable in the long-term, to give consumer choices in flood coverage, to address affordability, and to make investments in mapping and mitigation.
Any long-term reauthorization must include meaningful reforms to NFIP, which has needed $46 billion in taxpayer funds, and which masks risk, providing little incentive to mitigate flood risk. We are pleased that the House bill takes steps to address many of the issues that plague the program. We support a number of provisions in the bill including: ensuring consumers can choose private flood insurance (Ross-Castor bill); means-tested assistance for low-income homeowners; requiring communities to plan for known risks; raising the cap on Increased Cost of Compliance for mitigation; additional investments in mitigation; increased transparency and disclosure of flood risks; and requiring FEMA to continue to purchase reinsurance. The coalition would like to see additional provisions requiring property level data in mapping; requiring communities to consider nature-based mitigation; creating a mechanism to convert affordability assistance into mitigation where cost-effective; and further movement towards risk- based rates.
In addition, we have concerns about artificial rate caps contained in the bill as well as the provision on community flood maps which greatly limits public input and could further politicize the mapping process. However, as a whole, this legislative package moves the flood program in the right direction and contains needed reforms that will better protect those in harm’s way, the environment, and taxpayers. We urge the House to support this bill, and look forward to working with Congress on this important issue.