Maness opposes flood insurance program

Rob Maness, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said Tuesday that he doesn’t support — but would vote for, if in office — legislation being pushed by the Louisiana congressional delegation to slow dramatic increases in flood insurance premiums.

“I support the part where we have a moral obligation to take care of the folks who were forced to buy national flood insurance,” Maness told the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish’s Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon.

“What I don’t agree with is the continued funding of a program that is $33 billion in debt,” he said.

Added into a bill being considered in Congress is a limited provision sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, that would allow short-term relief from flood insurance increases. The provision would stop the Federal Emergency Management Agency from increasing premiums owners of homes that are not presently in a flood zone, but would be on the new maps. Some of these homeowners could see their premiums increase by thousands of dollars.

Other proposed changes would remain in place, including higher premiums for businesses, vacation homes and previously flooded properties. Sweeping legislation that would change how the National Flood Insurance Program is administered was sought to stablize billions of dollars in losses, much of which came in hurricanes.

Maness, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and Republican, is challenging Landrieu, the incumbent, and Cassidy, who is considered the leading Republican candidate.

“Why do you want to keep the national government in the flood insurance business,” Maness asked to applause. “The National Flood Insurance Program has been bailed out 18 times since it was put in place.”

Maness, who has support of several tea party organizations, said he would be OK with artificially keeping the premiums from increasing.

“It’s another bail out,” Maness said. “Right now, we have to do something. We have a moral obligation since we forced people into the insurance program.”

Maness said in the long run, the federal government should get out of the flood insurance business and that Congress needs to come up with some way to “energize” insurance companies into writing flood policies on the private market.