Call now!

1-866-571- 9211 OR VISIT WWW.911FLOOD.COM

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bills Proposed to Aid Flood Victims

Four Luzerne County lawmakers unveiled a package of bills Monday aimed at providing state disaster assistance to individuals and businesses more quickly and opening state aid spigots for disasters that don't qualify for large-scale federal aid.

The House measures would earmark a portion of state surplus money for loan programs to help those missing out on federal aid, earmark another surplus share to help communities minimize future flood damages, allow individuals and families who have been approved for federal aid but are waiting for checks to obtain interest-free "bridge" loans and ease state constitutional restrictions on providing aid to specific geographical areas.

"This four-bill package has really come forward based upon the conversations we have had with our constituents," said Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, referring to the ongoing disaster recovery in Northeastern Pennsylvania from widespread damages during Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene.

Pashinski and Reps. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston; Mike Carroll, D-Hughestown; and Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, are the bill sponsors.

The bills would:

n Earmark a negotiated portion of an estimated $500 million state budget surplus for a new state fund to provide loans at a 1.5 percent interest rate so business owners and individuals can minimize exposure to a flood. A loan of up to $40,000 could be used to move household utilities to a higher level under the bill. A loan of up to $80,000 could restore a home or business to pre-disaster conditions. If enacted, it could apply to communities like Plymouth Township, which experienced major damage from a flash flood last July, but didn't qualify for federal aid.

A 1.5 percent interest loan is preferable in today's economy to a federal Small Business Administration loan available at 4 percent interest, said Pashinski.

n Earmark another share of the state budget surplus to boost funding for a program that helps local governments reduce the impact of future disasters through such actions as moving buildings from floodplains.

n Enable those already approved for federal assistance to obtain an interest-free bridge loan for 60 days so they can hire contractors more quickly.

"We need a rapid response," said Mundy.

n Amend the state Constitution to specifically allow legislation providing special state aid to a region after a president has declared a disaster.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sandra Major, R-Montrose, is seeking cosponsors for legislation she plans to introduce authorizing the state to borrow up to $250 million to match federal money available for rebuild roads and bridges damaged by Lee and Hurricane Irene.

"My legislation will allow the Commonwealth to meet its 25 percent cost share obligation," said Major in a memo.

The House proposals are taking their place in the legislative hopper next to legislation introduced recently by senators on both sides of the aisle from Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Senate bills would provide state grants to help income-eligible individuals recoup flood losses, authorize $250 million in borrowing for the state share and provide other assistance to school districts and property owners.

No comments:

Post a Comment