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Rubio remains non-committal to flood insurance delay but wants 'a better way'

By Alex Leary

Sen. Marco Rubio says he doesn't want to see flood insurance rates go up on Floridians but he doesn't like the proposals kicking around Congress to prevent the spikes.

"While we should pursue all options, I am concerned that some of these proposals do not offer long term solutions, or in the case of the House of Representatives’ language, only address rate changes relating to flood maps and not the imminent rate increases facing some policy holders in Florida," Rubio wrote in a letter today to Gov. Rick Scott and Florida CFO Jeff Atwater. "That is why l will continue working with my colleagues on solutions that work for Florida families, ensure affordability, and preserve a path to solvency. We must find a better way, and I welcome your feedback and assistance in this effort.

Sen. Bill Nelson has legislation to prevent the offset the increases, which go into effect Oct. 1, but Rubio has not signed on. Nelson wrote his own letter this week to Scott and Atwater saying he needed their help getting Republican support (Rubio?).

Atwater today sent Nelson a letter accusing him of partisanship. "I am very concerned by your reference to the 'current state of gridlock in Congress caused by a small minority' that is preventing corrective legislation from  being passed and your indication that you need Governor Scott and I to convince Republicans to get this done," Atwater wrote.

"We are facing these rate hikes not because of a small minority that helped pass a bill. Rather, a large majority in Washington voted for the present legislation, doing so without warning their constituents of its consequences. In fact, not a single democrat in the House or Senate voted against the current policy that is the source of the rate hikes. The small minority when this policy passed were Republicans who voted against the bill.”

Below, Rubio's full letter. The limited government Republican may be in a bind on this one. While the flood hikes are unpopular in Florida, others say the practice of holding rates low, despite greater risk, is a costly government subsidy.

Dear Governor Scott and CFO Atwater, 

Thank you both for writing me and sharing your concerns about the National Flood Insurance Program and the rate increases that some Floridians are facing. Rest assured that l am committed to working with my colleagues to prevent the massive rate hikes and provide a long-term  

Over the last several weeks, l have heard legitimate concerns from thousands of Floridians and people who represent them, and l am increasingly concerned that the scheduled rate increases would have a devastating impact on Florida’s economy and housing market. I oppose these sharp rate increases because they will hurt working families by throwing another obstacle to economic 
prosperity and security in their way. 

There is no doubt that we should reform the NFIP and bring financial stability to the program, but there must be a more sensible way to do it. We must enact reforms that ensure manageable rate increases and give working families adequate time to plan for unavoidable rate increases, provide phased in rate increases to avoid devastating our real estate markets, and clarify 
the premium adjustments that Floridians could face. 

As you both reference, proposals have been put forward in Congress to delay rate increases. While we should pursue all options, I am concerned that some of these proposals do not offer long term solutions, or in the case ofthe House of Representatives’ language, only address rate changes relating to flood maps and not the imminent rate increases facing some policy holders in Florida. 
That is why l will continue working with my colleagues on solutions that work for Florida families, ensure affordability, and preserve a path to solvency. We must find a better way, and I welcome your feedback and assistance in this effort.

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