Our Views: A victory for Louisiana

The responsible resolution of a crisis in the affordability of flood insurance is a remarkable achievement by the Louisiana delegation in Congress.

Obviously, there are a lot of attaboys to go around, as key leaders in both parties in the Senate and the House had to help to pass the major legislation. That’s especially true as the bill performed major surgery on a law only passed by Congress in 2012.

Yet because of the provisions of the 2012 law, many Louisiana property owners found themselves in the crosshairs of unaffordable — and we believe unjustifiable — increases in flood insurance rates. That problem was made worse by a fumbled rollout of regulations for the revised law, via the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

From the beginning of debates on the National Flood Insurance Program, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., as senior member of the delegation and with a key committee position, warned Congress of the likely bad consequences of the 2012 law. She and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., are often at odds on many issues but worked both sides of the aisle on a bill to modify the law.

Their efforts, expanded to senators in other coastal states in another example of shrewd cross-party coalition building by Landrieu, brought a new flood bill to pass in the Senate by a solid 67-32 vote.

In the House, there was significant pushback to fixes in the 2012 law. We understand and appreciate the concern of fiscal hawks in the House, but some of the most conservative members of the House are in the Louisiana delegation. With the leadership of members such as Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferon, and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, language that most members could live with was negotiated; Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, worked the House minority and provided key leadership on his side of the aisle. The House’s majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., helped move the bill.

All this was done in a hurry, yet so convincingly that the House passed the final measure 306-91. With Landrieu and Vitter’s support, the Senate approved the House version to go the president.

All along, this saga was helped along by a coalition of businesses and homeowners, including those facing rate increases up to 10 times today’s cost, organized by Greater New Orleans Inc.

“This legislation protects homeowners who played by the rules and keeps real estate markets alive while putting the NFIP on a more realistic path to solvency,” Michael Hecht of GNO Inc., said.

We agree and appreciate the leadership across party lines and institutional lines to keep flood insurance affordable for Louisiana’s middle-class homeowners.