TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Florida Governor Rick Scott has been put on notice that homeowners and businesses across the state will lose access to the federal Flood Insurance program if he signs a bill now on his desk which would change the way local governments issue building permits.
The measure before the Governor is House Bill 503, which among other items allows local governments to issue building permits without getting permits from any other state or federal agency, such as FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This bill was backed by businesses who claimed the permitting process involved too many agencies and too much time. They believe this bill will change that
FEMA, which is run by former Florida Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate, is concerned that leaving other agencies like FEMA out of the loop would give it no say over development in flood prone areas, a violation of National Flood Insurance Program rules.
The agency warned Scott that if state action forces the suspension of the Flood Insurance program, more than 2 million policies with almost $500 billion in coverage could be at risk. A suspension could also stall new home financing in places like South Florida, because lenders usually require flood insurance if a home does not have a specific exemption.
“One consequence is that flood insurance may not be sold or renewed within the community,” FEMA Regional Administrator Major May wrote in his letter to Scott. “We want to ensure that Florida citizens continue to receive the benefits of the (National Flood Insurance Program).”
The federal flood insurance program is the only place to insure against flooding; private insurors and the state-backed Citizens insurance do not insure for flood losses.