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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jolly will introduce flood insurance legislation for commercial properties, second homes



Newly elected U.S. Rep. David Jolly said on Wednescday that he plans to introduce legislation to reduce skyrocketing flood insurance rates for commercial properties and second homes.

Jolly, a Republican, defeated Democratic candidate Alex Sink March 11 in the special election to succeed longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

Changes in federal flood insurance rates, which threatened to double or quadruple some individual homeowners' premiums, became a big issue in the race.

Last week President Obama signed a law passed by Congress which undid the changes it passed in 2012. The new law: reverses a provision that said government-subsidized rates would disappear when a person sells a primary home; provides a refund for those who already got hit under that provision; and maintains protections that were scheduled to sunset for "grandfathered" properties built to code after a community adopted its first Flood Insurance Rate Map.

But Jolly says the flood insurance changes still have the potential to do a lot of damage to families and businesses in Pinellas County, which is the reason behind his legislation.

He said the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce has contacted him with concern about the effect on commercial properties. Also, he said the higher rates shouldn’t apply to people who have second homes for their own purposes, which he called “owner-occupied second homes.” He said the exemption he is pushing would not apply to investment properties, such as a beach house that someone rents out to tenants.

Asked if these additional changes would be an uphill battle in a Congress that wants to reduce spending on large-scale government programs,  he said yes. But the successful fight to stop increases for individual homeowners was as well. Without these changes, he said he anticpated “the same crippling of the commercial real estate market” that occurred with the residential market.

Jolly also said he had met recently with FEMA Director Craig Fugate, a former state emergency management director in Florida, to discuss flood insurance issues.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 10:24am]


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