BATON ROUGE, La. -- The kind of bipartisan action on Capitol Hill that seems as rare as an endangered species took a big step Thursday toward undoing a law that homeowners feared could make many south Louisiana properties worthless.
The Senate's approval of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act set off a flurry of victory statements.
“I am happy to tell you today that common sense and affordability won,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La, said, "This huge victory saves families in Louisiana and across the country from losing their homes. It's a long overdue, permanent fix."
The bill has a series of provisions to protect property owners:
- Putting a cap of 18 percent on annual flood insurance rate hikes.
- Reinstating grandfathering to prevent rate hikes due to new mapping.
- Refunding policyholders who paid higher rates under the Biggert waters act.
- Keeping properties marketable.
“The home sales trigger has been removed. So if you’re going to sell your house to a new person, the flood insurance policy stays with the home,” said Michael Hecht of GNO, Inc.
And Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who sponsored the House bill that the Senate bill approved Thursday, said this "means we are one step closer to bringing long-term, permanent flood insurance relief to families across the nation."
“This program is essential for not only communities along the coast, but interior states for families and businesses and communities to thrive,” Landrieu said.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.