Smart Bites for June 13, 2011

 

BREAKING: FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate testified June 9th before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Click here to read more.

SMARTERSAFER.ORG PRAISES INTRODUCTION OF NATURAL DISASTER MITIGATION ACT: As the 2011 Hurricane Season officially begins, SmarterSafer.org strongly endorsed new bipartisan legislation called “The Natural Disaster Mitigation Act” which was introduced by Reps. Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS). The bill would provide low-income homeowners with a personal tax credit for taking mitigation measures that offer protection from natural disasters. The proposed credit amount is equal to 25 percent of the qualified natural disaster mitigation expenditures made by the taxpayer, up to $5,000 once per property. “SmarterSafer.org applauds Congressmen Rooney and Thompson for their leadership on this crucial issue. Not only will it help protect our nation’s most vulnerable populations, but it will actually end up saving taxpayers money in the long run. We hope Congress will move quickly to pass this vital piece of legislation.” Click here to read more.

BILIRAKIS BILL OFFERS TAX INCENTIVES TO HELP PROTECT PROPERTY FROM HURRICANE AND TORNADO DAMAGE: On the first week of the 2011 hurricane season, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced legislation to offer tax incentives for property improvements that would protect from hurricane or tornado damage. The bill would provide a tax credit of 25 percent of qualified hurricane and tornado mitigation property expenditures up to $5,000 for any taxable year. “Disasters can strike at any time, often with little warning,” said Bilirakis, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications. “We must work to create a culture of preparedness. Taking mitigation steps now can make a huge difference and in many cases reduce loss of life and property damage, while saving money and reducing insurance rates in the long run.” Click here to read more.

NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION ASKS CONGRESS TO IMPROVE FLOOD MITIGATION: The National Wildlife Federation is urging Congress to streamline, consolidate and permanently extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)-funded grants under the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Program. Currently, FEMA administers three separate programs to help property owners and communities mitigate against flood damage: the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Program; the Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) Program; and the Repetitive Flood Claims (RFC) Program. The National Wildlife Federation said the programs can be made more effective and efficient by consolidating the SRL and RFC Programs into the FMA Program as subsets. The consolidation would reduce bureaucracy and cost and allow FEMA to continue to help communities and property owners reduce flood damage and claims to the NFIP. “These cost savings would reduce the Program’s burden to taxpayers, safeguard communities, help restore the fiscal soundness of the NFIP, and better manage our nation’s floodplains,” said the National Wildlife Federation.

SMARTERSAFER.ORG ASKS SENATE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ITS PROPOSALS FOR NFIP REFORM: In a letter to Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), SmarterSafer.org asked the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs to consider its proposals to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The coalition said the NFIP must be reformed in basic areas, including: maps, rates and mitigation. “For over 40 years, the federal government, through NFIP, has provided significant subsidies for flood coverage. This has subsidized development in harm’s way and in environmentally important and sensitive areas; provides a disincentive to risk mitigation; and puts American taxpayers at significant risk. The program is now almost $18 billion in debt with all indications that FEMA will never be able to pay back taxpayers unless significant reforms are made,” said SmarterSafer.org. The letter stated any long-term reauthorization of the NFIP must be paired with meaningful reforms that ensure the program can continue to pay claims without asking American taxpayers for a bailout. Click here to read the letter.

SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.