Proposals for mitigation from storms floated in Florida Legislature and in Congress

Date 03/03/2014

By Jay Liles, FWF Policy Consultant

While politics has continued to dampen the call for action on climate change, many on both sides of the political divide see mitigation as common ground. Take U.S. Congressman Dennis Ross who represents a Florida congressional district that spans much of Orange, Hillsborough and Polk Counties. He has introduced legislation which would provide every taxpayer a $5,000 incentive to have storm resistant shutters, stronger roof panels, better windows and other important elements of the home or commercial structures less prone to damage from wind, flood and rain.

HR 2398 known as the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to establish tax-exempt disaster savings accounts to pay the expenses of homeowners for equipment and materials for mitigating the effects of a natural disaster by each of us to take up to a $5000 deduction for such costs. This is much like the health savings account many of us currently use to defray the costs of doctor visits, prescription drugs and other medical related expenses.

At a time when Congress and the Florida Legislature is struggling with government–backed insurance costs, it is a good idea to permit homeowners  to become more weather aware by having them take on the upfront costs of storm mitigation. We are all more likely to learn more about mitigation techniques and the value of storm protection if we have skin in the game.

FWF would like to thank Congressman Ross for introducing this novel approach to mitigation. You can also play a role in seeing that HR 2398 is enacted into law. The bill is currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means. Your own representative in congress should offer to co-sponsor this good legislation. We also need Florida’s U.S. Senators Rubio and Nelson to step up and offer similar legislation in the Senate. Please send a short note to your Member of Congress asking them to co-sponsor HR 2398 and to our US Senators asking them to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.

You can find your member of congress at

In the Florida Legislature, members of the Senate Banking and Insurance committee gave a favorable vote to CS/SB 542 by Senator Jeff Brandes, a bill that would establish a process whereby private insurance companies could offer flood insurance. This comes as many living in flood–prone areas are learning about plans to increase premiums for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FWF and the National Wildlife Federation have been strong proponents of measures designed to end subsidies for homeowners and commercial property owners who buy in low-lying areas. However, we have encouraged policymakers to use market driven price signals to better educate people about the risks associated with coastal living. Senator Brandes’s bill will do both and that is why we support such measures. Ultimately, homeowners will learn that coastal living comes with risks and that shifting the financial burden to others is not a sustainable approach.

You can show your support for Senator Brandes’s proposal by writing to the Chair of the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee, Alan Hays, and ask him to agenda this bill as soon as possible. Senator Hays’s email is  and he can be reached by phone at (352) 742-6441.

An example of construction that is way too close to the coast!

Tags: Coastal Policy, mitigation,

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