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Jeff Brandes files bill creating state flood mitigation program

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State Sen. Jeff Brandes is looking to help Florida communities address the effects of coastal flooding.

On Tuesday, the St. Petersburg Republican filed SB 584, a bill to create a statewide flood mitigation and assistance program, providing up to $50 million per year in matching grant funds.

The money would help reduce the risk and severity of coastal flooding. Part of the program includes a plan for land acquisition and preservation. The proposal will also extend the expiration of de-regulated rates in flood insurance to 2025 from 2017, to give the flood insurance market more time to grow.

“We have a unique opportunity to simultaneously assist our coastal communities with flooding hazards while addressing the spirit of Amendment 1 overwhelmingly approved by the voters,” Brandes said in a statement. “This proposal will provide relief to portions of the state hit hardest with rising flood insurance costs by preserving and protecting vulnerable communities and natural coastal assets.”

Florida Wildlife Federation spokesperson Jay Liles called the proposal “a realistic and innovative approach” to addressing storm surge and subsequent flooding.

“The senator’s proposal combines both market-driven approach and a means by which communities can work to reduce losses due to flooding,” Liles added. “This is an important issue for the Florida Legislature to address and we appreciate his willingness to offer a starting point.”

Funding for the bill would be through a combination of local matching grants and money from the Florida Communities Trust. Under Brandes’ proposal, flood grants and assistance will be prioritized by programs and projects offering the greatest improvement in the Community Rating System score, as set by the National Flood Insurance Program.

The plan also ties into Amendment 1 funding, which calls for the state acquisition of coastal land for preservation.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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