The Federal Emergency Management Agency says many homeowners won't be seeing big increases in flood premiums this year. The reason: a provision in the spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the President in January.
"The rider, added by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and backed by the entire Louisiana delegation, barred FEMA from using its funding 'to implement, carry out, administer, or enforce Section 100207 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Modernization and Reform Act of 2012' for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1," reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune (for the full report, see: "FEMA says some flood insurance premium hikes will be delayed 12-18 months," by Bruce Alpert).
The reprieve applies to homes that have been moved into higher risk classifications as a result of changes to flood risk maps. However, it won't help homeowners trying to sell their houses: The Biggert-Waters provision that triggers insurance rate increases for properties that change hands will remain in force despite the new spending bill provision.
The U.S. Senate voted in January to delay all the Biggert-Waters premium hikes for four years, the New York Times reported ("Senate Passes Bill to Delay Spike in Flood Insurance Rates," by Carol Davenport). "The bill, co-sponsored by Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, passed by 67 to 32. It would effectively gut a 2012 law that had aimed to overhaul the nearly bankrupt National Flood Insurance Program," the Times reported.
But the measure has stalled in the House. A Democratic push to bring the Senate bill to a quick vote failed, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported (see: "House rejects Democratic proposal for quick vote on Senate-passed bill delaying flood insurance hikes," by Bruce Alpert). However, Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions says a House committee is working on a similar bill, which, if passed, could be reconciled with the Senate version by a joint committee of both houses.
For another overview of the flood insurance policy debate, see this CNBC report: "Flood insurance battle reaching high-water mark," by Mark Koba.