Changes in flood insurance
To the editor:
Last summer, Congress enacted changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will result in dramatically higher flood insurance costs for many policyholders.
To account for the true costs of flood insurance, the bill phases in premiums that reflect the full flood risk of each insured building. Congress clearly wants to restore the fiscal soundness of the NFIP (which owed the U.S. Treasury $17 billion prior to Hurricane Sandy) and expects people who occupy floodplains to shoulder more of the costs.
The legislation phases out insurance subsidies for several categories of buildings, including: second homes, business properties, new policies, and newly purchased property. Without these subsidies, insurance costs will be based on the elevation (or flood protection level) of the structure. The resulting rates can be quite high, particularly for buildings with basements.
Other changes will affect rates for all flood insurance policies, which can rise by up to 20 percent per year. The bottom line is that premiums are going to rise significantly in future years. Unfortunately, Congress did not address the affordability of flood insurance, other than to authorize a study.
The New York State Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association (NYSFSMA) recognizes the need for NFIP reform, but is concerned about the impact this legislation will have on business districts and real estate markets in older floodplain communities. The association will continue to advocate for additional reforms to the flood insurance program in order to achieve the multiple objectives of affordability, fairness, and fiscal soundness.
Colleen M. Fullford,
The writer is Region 4 director of NYSFSMA.
One letter can save lives
To the editor:
After several years of decline, smoking imagery in youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13) increased 36 percent in 2011. PG-13 movies are the biggest concern since they account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see on the big screen. In 2011, eight of the 10 biggest hits at the box office were rated PG-13, which is the rating most widely sought after to maximize a movie's potential audience. Of those movies rate PG-13, three contained smoking imagery including "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol," and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."
The most effective, least intrusive way to cut tobacco exposure would be to rate future movies with smoking in them R. Producers would simply reserve the smoking for their R-rated films, the way they now routinely regulate other content. Movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 would be smoke-free, cutting teens' risk from on-screen smoking in half. Hollywood's rating system doesn't cost taxpayers a dime. Yet the "R's" result will rank among the most important public health advances of our time. One letter can now save thousands of lives.
For more information on how you can take action, visit Reality Check on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to celebrate our smoke-free movie day. We will have a free showing of "Escape from Planet Earth" at the Emerald Cinemas at noon and at the Johnstown MoviePlex at 4:30 p.m. People will get in on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have any questions, please call 762-8313.