The House flood insurance reform plan, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, is set to go for a vote Wednesday.
"We worked extremely hard to find the right balance with this legislation, and to deliver real relief and lasting reforms. This bill means more compassionate rates and more certainty for homeowners and communities facing unreasonable flood insurance increases," U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo said in a statement.
"It represents exhaustive efforts over the past year to educate the public and my colleagues on these issues. And perhaps most importantly, it includes input from everyday Mississippians, community leaders and industry experts. I believe this bill is exactly what we need to ensure insurance remains affordable and available for those who need it, and I will do everything in my power to ensure its passage."
The bill includes several changes from the existing Biggert-Waters Act of 2012:
n It would repeal Section 207 of the law and restore grand-fathered rates.
n It would ensure that FEMA does not move the goal posts on those who built back to code after storms like Hurricane Katrina.
The bill will also give policyholders multiple options to manage and possibly reduce premiums by allowing for a higher deductible, monthly payments and expanding mitigation options.
According to a release from Palazzo, it also caps rate growth per year by changing the formula on which rates are based. That change, according to the release, could result in thousands of dollars of reductions in yearly premiums for some homeowners.
Palazzo said the legislation also provides greater certainty for communities and real estate markets across the country.
Under Biggert-Waters, homes lost grand-fathered rates once a property was sold. The new legislation, Palazzo said, ties premiums to properties instead of people.
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes believes reinstating the grandfather clause is the most important provision of the pending bill.
"Rates are certainly an issue, but the grand-fathering can really affect a lot of folks who were doing exactly what the government told them to do after various storms," he said Saturday afternoon. "For them to all of a sudden change the rules, and the rules are new after Katrina, if you build new you have to meet new elevation standards. For existing homes or businesses, that's just wrong."
In keeping up with discussions that have taken place in Washington, Hewes said he takes issue with people who say the bill will only help the rich.
"The fact of the matter is, there are very few beach front structures at all remaining along the Gulf Coast eight years after Katrina. These policies impact folks miles inland," he said. "There are folks from every walk of life and most of them are middle-class folks and a lot of lower class. It impacts everybody. For anybody to infer these only benefit or protect the rich, (they) haven't been down here and are really demonstrating that they don't completely grasp the seriousness of the situation we're facing."
Palazzo is an original co-sponsor of the legislation that was originally introduced in October 2013. He also is vice chairman of the Home Protection Caucus, which he helped form in May 2013.