State delegates rallying support to delay new flood insurance law
Local efforts are underway to push South Carolina’s congressional delegation to delay a law that’s driving up the cost of flood insurance for property owners.
A Charleston County legislative delegation committee will recommend all state legislators in the region draft a letter urging federal lawmakers to push for further review of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012.
The decision followed a 90-minute discussion about rising flood premiums at North Charleston City Hall on Tuesday. The discussion included a presentation by the S.C. Association of Realtors and some elected officials.
“We are asking for your help ... to let our congressional delegation know the impact on our communities, and it’s not just a coastal issue,” said Sullivan’s Island Mayor Mike Perkis.
The new rules trigger 10 percent increases, on average, when a flood policy is renewed. They also will gradually eliminate subsidies, requiring homeowners to assume the full risk rate.
The reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program were enacted to help pay off the mounting debts it’s incurred from major disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
Pieces of the law have been phased in since the start of the year. On Oct. 1, a new policy mandated that homes built before the first federal flood map, so-called pre-firm structures, will no longer qualify for subsidies once they are sold.
State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, chairman of the committee, said there needs to be more efforts to let Congress know the effects of the law.
“I think we can get every local government in the county to sign off on that letter,” he said. “I can’t imagine a single one that would not want to sign off on it.”
A one-year delay has been proposed as part of a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. It passed the House under its version of the bill. Now it’s up to the Senate.
Stavrinakis said the letter to Congress is just a start.
“We need to do a lot more than just that,” he said. “We have to let people know around South Carolina, and they will slowly find out as this progresses.”
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.