2 state hearings to examine issue

To address the ongoing flood insurance crisis that hit the nation and locally with the passage of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, two public hearings will be held in Harrisburg next week.

On Monday, state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, is co-chairing a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing that is open to all members of the House on both sides of the aisle and the public. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Room 418, main capitol building, and streamed live on

Homeowners, Realtors, bankers and officials will testify at the hearing to educate the General Assembly and show that this crisis affects everyone, Mirabito said.

“If tax parcels in the floodplain are deemed to have no value and if there is no property tax paid by homeowners and businesses, the tax burden will be shifted to other taxpayers, which will be devastating for the economic development and well-being of our state,” Mirabito said.

“We want to get information from various experts and people affected by it to see what they feel needs to be done, and to further examine the nature of this problem,” he said of the hearing.

On Tuesday, a joint hearing from the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will be held. State Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, is chairman of the latter committee and initiated the hearing that is open to the public. It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Hearing Room 1, north office building.

In the hearing, testifiers will dig into the background, cause and impacts of the problem, Yaw said.

“We tried to put together an across-the-board spectrum of who’s impacted, why they’re impacted, what’s the cause, some history of flood insurance,” along with bankers, Realtors and homeowners speaking, although the focus won’t be on anecdotal stories, Yaw said, but on the “larger, broader impacts.”

The intent is to “talk to the people who are impacted and bring it to the attention of other elected officials,” he said.

Essentially, the problem must be identified before a solution can be found.

“You have to know what the facts are, what the background is, what caused it, and what the impacts are before we start talking about solving it, or if there is anything the state can do,” Yaw said. “Right now, we’re trying to fill in as many questions as we can.”