Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Flood insurance relief bill introduced with Florida lawmakers' support

WASHINGTON — After weeks of scrambling to come up with a proposal to remedy soaring flood insurance rates, lawmakers formally introduced one Tuesday and quickly worked to build broad bipartisan support, casting the increases as a threat to middle-class families.

"This is a real threat to the economic well-being of many communities," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

The proposal would delay the rate hikes for four years and require FEMA to complete an affordability study before increasing any flood insurance premiums in the future. The affordability study was mandated as part of the law that triggered the increases but was never undertaken. It would apply retroactively.

"This is a great picture," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., declared at a news conference joined by a number of Senate and House lawmakers from both parties.

Conspicuously missing was Florida, the state with the most subsidized flood insurance policies (about 50,000 in Pinellas County alone). Only Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, was there to add his support.

So where does the rest of the delegation stand?

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who did an interview with Fox News about Obamacare during the news conference, has taken a wait-and-see approach. A spokeswoman noted that he does not approve of the increases, which kicked in Oct. 1, but that he also wants to ensure that the National Flood Insurance Program remains solvent and is waiting to see final legislation.

Support was building in the House, where the bill was introduced Tuesday afternoon, with more than 80 members in support.

Florida members include: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston; Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami; Rich Nugent, R-Brooksville; Kathy Castor, D-Tampa; Joe Garcia, D-Miami; Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach; Frederica Wilson, D-Miami; Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami; Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter; and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, said he'll be a co-sponsor and is working on his own legislation for longterm reform.

A handful of other members said they wanted to read the legislation but were generally supportive.

Backers face a challenge gaining support from lawmakers in areas not as prone to flooding as well as those who say the national flood insurance program is too saddled with debt.

"This bipartisan breakthrough will benefit thousands of families and businesses in Florida and other states, and will responsibly analyze flood insurance reform in a measured, reasonable way that focuses on stability for homeowners," Castor said. "I am pressing to have Congress act quickly to pass this bipartisan legislation that provides relief for my neighbors, some of whom saw their rates skyrocket overnight."

"Forty percent of all flood policies are in my state," Nelson said at the news conference Tuesday. "And it has dried up the real estate market. … We're in an emergency situation. … It's time to act."

Comments
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18
Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its Prime membership monthly plan by nearly 20 percent. The fee of $99 for an annual membership will not change, the company said Friday. The online retailer had added the monthly payment option about two yea...
Published: 01/19/18