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Flood insurance being discussed in Harrisburg

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 27 2014 05:00:01 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 06:30:10 PM CST

Congress is expected to vote in delaying the flood insurance premium increases Monday.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

Congress is expected to vote in delaying the flood insurance premium increases Monday.

Congress passed the Biggert-Waters-Flood Insurance Act in 2012 to stabilize the National Flood Insurance Program, which is deeply in debt.

Now Insurance rates for homes in high risk areas are set to skyrocket, some as much as 25% a year.

Jeff Smead is a home owner and member of Stop FEMA Now, a national group of concerned citizens. He was one of several, including members of the realty and banking community, that testified to Pennsylvania lawmakers about the potential effects of the act.

"I have a neighbor his home is worth $65,000 and he is paying $9,000 due to Biggert Waters. He can't afford it," Smead said.

Updated flood maps could put even more houses on the list.

As many as 34,000 Pennsylvania households could be impacted.

"I hope today leads to both Democrats and Republicans in the PA Legislature working together to try and come up with temporary solutions," Smead said.

"We have so many people in PA on fixed incomes and don't have several thousand dollars set aside to account for those premiums," said Aron Carter of Pennswood Bancorp.

Expressed concerns included a tidal wave of foreclosures, higher taxes and devastated communities across the Commonwealth. Some ideas tossed around the hearing included tax credits and subsidies for homeowners.
But as of now PA lawmakers don't exactly know what they can do.

"We can work on it. But it will take bipartisanship, take government department of banking, insurance to move forward," PA Rep. Democrat Phyllis Mundy said.

Pennsylvania Senate Committee leaders are having another hearing on this Tuesday.