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Senate Proceeding on May 26th, 2010 :: 6:32:30 to 6:45:00
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Mark Pryor

6:32:27 to 6:32:47( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: individuals who are motivated by jude colleagues, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. pre the presiding officer: the mr. pryor: mr. president, i have amendment number i will speak on, but i will not

Mark Pryor

6:32:30 to 6:45:00( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor

6:32:48 to 6:33:08( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: call it up at this moment. however, my intent is to call it up at the soonest appropriate time. i rise today to offer -- or at least to speak on this amendment. and also i would ask for unanimous consent that senator cochran be added as a cosponsor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. pryor: first i'd like to

Mark Pryor

6:33:09 to 6:33:29( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: commend the chairman and the ranking member for their work on the supplemental spending bill. this has been a well-crafted and pragmatic piece of legislation, but it has sometimes been difficult in putting this together and moving it to the floor. i want to thank the leaders on the appropriations committee and

Mark Pryor

6:33:30 to 6:33:51( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: the various subcommittees that worked to get this done. this bill will greatly benefit our nation's men and women in uniform. this bill also assures that disaster victims have the services and assistance needed to help them recover from both natural and manmade disasters. i greatly appreciate the work of the chairman and the ranking member, along with all of my

Mark Pryor

6:33:52 to 6:34:12( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: colleagues on the appropriations committee. second, i would like to discuss amendment number 4282 regarding fema's flood map modernization program. i would like to thank senator cochran and his staff for their hard work and diligence in preparing this amendment with

Mark Pryor

6:34:13 to 6:34:35( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: me, as well as senators lincoln, vitter and brownback, who are all cosponsors. and i greatly appreciate their contributions as well. the purpose of this amendment is to address concerns regarding economic development and the ability of communities to provide input in the development of new flood insurance rate maps.

Mark Pryor

6:34:36 to 6:34:58( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: the amendment would do three simple things. first, it wouldllow an extension of the flood elevation and special flood hazard area determination appeal, period, upon request from an affected community. second, it would prevent fema from using technicalities to circumvent requirements to study

Mark Pryor

6:34:59 to 6:35:19( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: the economic impact of modifications. third, it would establish an arbitration panel for communities to appeal fema's proposed map modifications before a neutral third party. this part -- this sort of appeal from an independent third party is already allowed by statute, but it's rarely used. and the amendment would set up

Mark Pryor

6:35:20 to 6:35:41( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: an arbitration panel and highlight the ability of communities to use this as a manner of appeal. as most of you know, i've been talking about fema's flood maps for the last several years. at first i was working with just a few other senators to address implementation of the program. senator lincoln also has been a

Mark Pryor

6:35:42 to 6:36:02( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: ve determined advocate in this area. but now there are senators representing 13 different states that have expressed interest in addressing some common problems with the map modernization program. let me emphasize that i support modernizing our maps. i think thats a good thing to do. i think it's something we should do.

Mark Pryor

6:36:03 to 6:36:24( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: i think it's a good use of time and effort and resources to do that. however, what i'm concerned about is that fema seems to be determined to use this as a revenue raiser for fema and the flood insurance program. the way that they have it set up

Mark Pryor

6:36:25 to 6:36:46( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: is that they will determinations and basically greatly expand existing floodplains into area that, because of levees and other flood-control management efforts, billions of dollars worth of efforts, by the way, those areas are not currently at

Mark Pryor

6:36:47 to 6:37:09( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: risk, hardly at all, for any flooding. but the fema flood maps, i guess, on a technicality, would say that they are now -- or wod be, as the maps are completed, would be in a floodplain. the bottom-line effect of this is that it creates a huge revenue source for fema, because

Mark Pryor

6:37:10 to 6:37:30( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: what happens is once they greatly expand the map of the floodplain, suddenly all -- many of those people and businesses in that area have to purchase flood insurance. and in our state, we've looked at the numbers, that flood insurance could be as little as $100 a year. it could be well over $2,500 a

Mark Pryor

6:37:31 to 6:37:52( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: year. this is a significant impact on people's mortgage payments and their various loans for their businesses. but here's what we have to keep in mind: from our perspective -- again, we're not the only state that does this. many, many states that have river systems that flood, from our perspective, these people

Mark Pryor

6:37:53 to 6:38:14( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: are already paying for flood insurance, except what they're doing is they're paying for their local levees to protect their communities. as long as those levees are in compliance and as long as there's not any real risk, real-life risk of a flood in a particular area, i think it's unjust that these people would

Mark Pryor

6:38:15 to 6:38:37( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: be charged for flood insurance. some of the common problems with fema's approach are the lack of communication and outreach to local stakeholders, a lack of coordinationetween fema and the corps -- that's the corps of engineers -- in answering questions about flood mapping, flood insurance and flood control, infrastructure repairs,

Mark Pryor

6:38:38 to 6:38:58( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: a lack of recognition of locally funded flood control projects, a lack of recognition of historical flood data, inadequate time and resources to complete repairs to flood control structures before the maps are finalized. in other words, they may problem, and then on day one they say you have a problem.

Mark Pryor

6:38:59 to 6:39:19( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: even though the problem could be fixed very quickly, or within a year, let's say, they sti are going to try to tag people with flood insurance in those affected areas. and the other thing they have not considered is the potential impacts that these new flood maps might have on economic development, particularly in small and rural communities.

Mark Pryor

6:39:20 to 6:39:41( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: so, mr. president, let me give you an example of what we're talking about here on the ground in arkansas. and again, if senators think that they don't have this problem, you may not today, but it's coming, because as they redraw all these flood maps, this is going to become -- i don't know about all 50 states,

Mark Pryor

6:39:42 to 6:40:03( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: but in well over half the states as they go through this flood map redrawing. let me give an example. in our state, of course the boot heel of missouri is the venisteern corner -- the very northeastern corner of our staeufplt this is a levee in

Mark Pryor

6:40:04 to 6:40:24( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: missouri, when inspected, it has a sand boil. the sand boil is a problem, no doubt about it. they are in varying degrees. this particular one wasn't that bad but nevertheless there is a sand boil there which means the water is starting to seep under the levee. totally repair it. need a little time to fix it. totally repair it.

Mark Pryor

6:40:25 to 6:40:45( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: the concern we have when we talked to fema, talked to the corps of engineers, we're not getting any comfort that our fierce are not -- our fears are not completely justified. the concern we have is once they find that sand boil in the very central part of the st. francis river basin, there going to say the whole basin is out of

Mark Pryor

6:40:46 to 6:41:08( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: compliance. in other words, in the real world, they could have a leak there -- i hope they never do and i hope they can repair it. but they could have a leak there. they could have a 1 hundred-year flood and it actually cause a problem in that levee. think about it, the flooding would be local to that levee. it wouldn't be 50 miles away in a totally different part of the water basin.

Mark Pryor

6:41:09 to 6:41:29( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: so, the river basin area. so, this is just -- fema,n my view, is doing things here that are very heavy-handed, very bureaucratic. i really do believe that they're searching for revenue based on the huge amount of money that fema had to spend on katrina and some other disasters.

Mark Pryor

6:41:30 to 6:41:51( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: and fema's books are way out of balance as a result of that, and i see this as a revenue raiser for them. the problem is, like i said, that they're going to go into areas that have very strong levees that will never flood. i mean, these levees, some of these levees are built to well over the 100-year standard.

Mark Pryor

6:41:52 to 6:42:12( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: in many places in arkansas they are built to well over that because we've had very, very serious problems in our state. in the eastern part of our state, people believe in levees because they needed them before. the levees have saved them before. the levees have breached before. they have been on both sides of that equation. they believe in levees.

Mark Pryor

6:42:13 to 6:42:33( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: they understand the value of it. it's not just true in arkansas again. you can go to mississippi, tennessee, missouri, illinois. you can go not just up and down the mississippi, but lots of river systems all over this country, and this problem is coming to your state. if you haven't seen it yet, you will. this problem is coming to your state. what we're trying to do with

Mark Pryor

6:42:34 to 6:42:56( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: this amendment is to at least -- personally, i think we ought to have various remedies available in this fema remapping project. but at a minimum, i think at a minimum, we ought to set up the ability for them to have an arbitration panel. so if the corps of engineers and fema make a finding, the community at least has a chance

Mark Pryor

6:42:57 to 6:43:18( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: to appeal and hopefully effect a remedy before they get hit with the flood insurance requirement. so, there's a lot more to this story. i'm not going to bore my colleagues and talk too much abou it today because it's not the pending amendment. but i do think that this is something i'd very much

Mark Pryor

6:43:19 to 6:43:39( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: appreciate your consideration on. i would hope we would be able to be successful in attaching this. it basically doesn't cost any money. there's no grant program. at one point we were talking about a grant program. we don't have that in here. what we do is set up an arbitration panel. the membership of the arbitration panel would have

Mark Pryor

6:43:40 to 6:44:01( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: expertise in hydrology, administrative law and/or economic development. we let the corps of engineers provide the technical guidance which i think would be very valuable. and also, we allow communities an appeal period where they can appeal within 120 days. and it also clarifies that under some circumstances, communities could be at least partially reimbursed for the cost of the appeal.

Mark Pryor

6:44:02 to 6:44:24( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: and that's already existing law. that provision is already in there. we're just making it clear that that rule would apply to this process. so, mr. president, i want to thank you for your patience in listening to me, and i know that we have other senators who, if they're not on the floor at the moment, there are other senators who are waiting to speak.

Mark Pryor

6:44:25 to 6:44:48( Edit History Discussion )

Mark Pryor: so with that, again, i'd like to just mention that amendment 4282 -- i'm not calling it up at the moment, but i would like to, at the earliest possible moment. so, mr. president, with that i yield the floor, and the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

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