Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Flood rate delay is not strong enough

Congress is poised this week to address at least part of the problem with the nation's flood insurance crisis by delaying some provisions of a 2012 law in a general spending bill. But don't be fooled. In practice, it only puts into law what was expected to happen anyway this year and won't help those homeowners who have already been hit with exponentially higher premiums. What Congress still must do is delay the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 to allow time for more reasonable reform to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The language in the appropriations bill expected to be approved by the House and Senate this week would delay for a year the elimination of one of two subsidies slated to disappear under Biggert-Waters. The first subsidy — for owners of homes built before federal flood maps were drawn in about the mid-1970s — began being phased out Oct. 1 over the next five years for existing policyholders, and immediately when a home is purchased. The change has been generating headlines ever since, particularly in Tampa Bay, as some new owners faced premiums 10 times higher than what the previous owner paid. The appropriations bill will not fix those problems.

The second subsidy, called "grandfathering," applied to properties that were drawn into riskier flood zones when a flood map was redrawn. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the program, has said it didn't expect to eliminate those subsidies until the end of 2014. The appropriations bill will ensure that by placing the time frame into law, but it really just reaffirms what FEMA already planned to do.

Nonetheless, House and Senate members anxious to appear responsive to constituents' pain trumpeted the language in the appropriations bill Tuesday. But the more important task facing Florida's congressional delegation is to persuade enough colleagues to vote to approve a four-year delay in the implementation of Biggert-Waters. That would give FEMA time to build a more rational plan for returning the flood insurance program to solvency that doesn't create a crisis for homeowners in the process. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled his support for that plan Tuesday. Now House leadership needs to be convinced. It's time for Congress to clean up the mess it has made, not just put into law what was going to happen anyway.

Comments

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18