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Senate fails to act on flood rates bill
An attempt to fast-track legislation to delay some rate increases under a 2012 overhaul of the federal Flood Insurance Program failed Wednesday in the U.S. Senate, prompting some coastal residents to step up their battle for relief.

The Senate failed to approve a unanimous consent request that would have allowed for debate and an earlier vote on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, a bill that delays certain facets of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, without requiring the legislation to move through committees.

Homeowners in flood zones are facing sharp increases in flood insurance premiums as a result of the Biggert-Waters Act, a measure designed to raise funds and reduce debt the Federal Emergency Management Agency faces after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act that backers wanted to jumpstart Wednesday is cosponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and would delay some rate increases for four years while FEMA studied the financial impact of the Biggert-Waters Act.

The unanimous consent request failed after Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, objected, said George Kasimos, founder of the national organization Stop FEMA Now, a grassroots effort to repeal or reduce effects of the Biggert-Waters Act.

Julie Califf of Glynn County, founder of the Georgia branch of Stop FEMA Now, said the Flood Insurance Affordability Act will now continue through the Senate's committee process.

"I'm hearing it might come up again after Christmas," Califf said Thursday.

Califf said she has moved beyond contacting U.S. legislators from Georgia to urge a change, and is now writing to legislators across the nation. She said she is also extending her pleas to the Georgia state legislature to petition the U.S. Congress on constituents' behalf.

Since she began Stop FEMA Now Georgia in September, Califf said she has more than 200 Facebook followers and an email list of more than 100 people.

Many coastal Georgians, however, are unaware of the potential increase to their insurance premiums, she said.

"I feel like the word is getting out, but our group is still concentrated in Glynn and McIntosh counties," Califf said. "The coast obviously has the most policies in the hazard flood plain, but it's not a coastal issue alone."

In the U.S. House of Representatives, companion legislation to Isakson's bill remains in committee.

* Reporter Kelly Quimby writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at kquimby@thebrunswicknews.com, or at 265-8320, ext. 321.



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