Make us your home page
Instagram

Sen. Marco Rubio says he'll vote for flood insurance rate hike delay

“Clearly we have to prevent these disruptive increases,” Sen. Marco Rubio said.

Associated Press

“Clearly we have to prevent these disruptive increases,” Sen. Marco Rubio said.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that he will back a bill to delay steep rate increases under a flood insurance reform law, but added that some reforms are needed.

Rubio has said he opposes the hikes, which have caused alarm across Florida, but he has not been a visible member of a coalition working on the legislation.

Supporters of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which would put off increases for four years while affordability is studied, are looking for a vote next week.

"Clearly we have to prevent these disruptive increases," Rubio said in an interview with Florida reporters at his Washington office. He cited a case in which the annual insurance bill for a homeowner in the Keys went from just under $2,000 to $49,000.

Rubio also noted that the bill being considered could add $2 billion in debt to the National Flood Insurance Program, already $24 billion in the hole, largely due to Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

"Let me be clear, I'll vote for this bill … because I think it's important to prevent these rate increases from going forward. But I would like to find some long-term certainty," Rubio said.

"Obviously, if the only choice before us is to just prevent the increases, we'll do it. But we've been working with other offices about using this as an opportunity to put in place reforms that create some long-term certainty about the program."

Rubio noted that Florida, which has more flood insurance policies than any other state, pays in more to the program than it takes out and that local communities, such as West Miami, have taken their own steps to mitigate flood risk.

"We need to look at the equities of that as well," Rubio said, suggesting that other states that are part of the risk pool should step up. "I'm not sure that — in a bill like this — trying to put in together all these other states might be the right vehicle for it. But that's something we'll explore."

Despite the clamor for relief in Florida, Louisiana and other flood-prone states, the opponents to the bill, which rolls back reforms to the flood program under a 2012 act known as Biggert-Waters, have begun to mobilize. A coalition called SmarterSafer.org this week blasted a wholesale delay of the rate increases, saying targeted relief is more acceptable.

"What we're seeing with this legislation is an overreaction that would essentially eliminate or erase nearly all of the reforms that were put into place," Jimi Grande, an official with the lobbying group National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, said in a conference call with reporters.

Private insurers have an interest in eliminating the subsidies because they want to offer coverage to homeowners.

Rubio said he was encouraged by a bill in the Florida Legislature that seeks to create a private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Sen. Marco Rubio says he'll vote for flood insurance rate hike delay 01/09/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2014 6:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Who's best global airline? Qatar Airways takes No. 1 spot but Delta tops U.S. carriers

    Airlines

    The good news? Delta Airlines tops all U.S. airlines in a new Skytrax global airline passenger satisfaction survey of the world's best airlines. The bad news? At No. 32, Delta still ranks behind dozens of Middle East, Asian and some European airlines. For Tampa International Airport and the major airlines that operate …

    Southwest Airlines, the biggest carrier at Tampa International Airport, improved its customer satisfaction rating among global airlines in a recent survey.
[Times file photo]
  2. Vinoy resort will ask St. Petersburg voters to approve new parking garage (with tennis courts on top)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club is undergoing a $50 million redevelopment and part of that plan calls for building a new one-story parking garage over eight existing tennis courts.

    The Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club is undergoing a $50 million redevelopment. The Vinoy wants to build a one-story parking garage as part of that project, in place of eight existing tennis courts. The tennis courts would be moved on top of the garage, which would hold 270 parking spots. But the Vinoy needs St. Petersburg voters to approve the project in a November referendum. This is an artists' rendering of the new garage from the street. [Courtesy of Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club]
  3. House committee passes Florida-sponsored flood insurance bill

    Banking

    The House Financial Services Committee pushed through a Florida-sponsored bill intended to cut flood insurance costs. If passed, the bipartisan bill would help create a marketplace for private flood insurance.

    A House committee passed a Florida-sponsored bill meant to lower flood insurance rates.
[Times file photo]
  4. 3 new restaurants open: Deccan Spice Indian food, Farmacy Vegan Kitchen, the Cake Shop

    Food & Dining

    DECCAN SPICE

    Deccan Spice has opened at 2325 Ulmerton Road, in what used to be the elegant and vast Grand Siam space in Feather Sound. It's getting high marks so far for its traditional Indian lunch buffet, and offers a range of southern Indian dishes (vadas and dosas and idlis, oh my) seldom seen …

    Farmacy Vegan Kitchen + Bakery serves wraps, acai bowls, smoothies and juices and plant-based baked goods like strawberry cupcakes. Photo courtesy of Charles Rumph.
  5. The driver who died in a Tesla crash in Florida using Autopilot ignored 7 safety warnings

    Autos

    When Joshua Brown's Tesla slammed into the side of a tractor-trailer last year at more than 70 miles per hour, the fatal accident became the world's first known car crash involving a partly autonomous vehicle.

    Tesla requires its drivers to keep their hands on the wheel even when Autopilot is engaged. A crash in Florida showed that the driver was warned to keep his hands on the steering wheel.  (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) TXTG101