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Montana Local & State PoliticsMontana Local & State Politics
Tester, Rehberg Call for Action on Flood Insurance
Reauthorization would affect Kalispell businesses, Montana homeowners
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester held a press conference with Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter on Valentine's Day calling for legislation to improve and reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, which Tester's office said is necessary to "provide certainty for Montana homeowners."

In addition to affecting homeowners, the bill has ramifications for flood insurance companies such as Kalispell's Torrent Technologies and National Flood Services. Tester's office says the senator is leading a bipartisan effort urging fellow senators to swiftly schedule a vote on the reauthorization bill.

“Long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program will offer home and business owners the certainty they need to plan for the future,” Tester said. “We have a responsibility to meet taxpayers’ needs, and this bipartisan plan will put flood insurance on firmer financial footing and spur our economy.”

Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg, who is challenging Tester for his Senate seat, also called on the Senate to address flood insurance, pointing out that the House passed its Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011. Rehberg voted for the legislation in July of last year.

"The National Flood Insurance Program is badly in need of extension and reform, and more than half a year ago, the House sent the Senate a bill to do just that," Rehberg said. "It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I hope the Senate will stop delaying necessary changes and do the work that needs to be done.”

The National Flood Insurance Program was established in 1968 and last reauthorized in 2004. According to a release from Tester's office, a recent short-term lapse in the program reportedly delayed or canceled more than 1,400 home closings per day over 53 days in 2010. The program is scheduled to expire again on May 31.

Tester said last year’s major flooding along the Missouri River basin demonstrated "a clear need" for flood insurance reauthorization and levee recertification. Tester and Vitter are pushing Senate leaders to schedule the vote soon, citing "overwhelming bipartisan support."

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