On Monday, January 14, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 219, The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and will be considered under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval.
The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 amends Title IV of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act as follows:
- Hazard mitigation projects are expedited by streamlining the environmental review and requiring the President to establish an expedited review for environmental and historic requirements for rebuilding damage infrastructure.
- Local governments are given greater flexibility to consolidate or rebuild facilities by allowing FEMA to issue fixed price grants on the basis of damaged estimates instead of a traditional entitlement guarantee to cover all cost increases over time.
- Debris removal costs are reduced by utilizing reforms from a successful 2006 Debris Removal Pilot program that enable operations to be conducted in a more cost-effective manner and incentivize the completion of projects on-time and under budget.
- Money is saved, using reforms from a successful 2006 pilot project, by authorizing FEMA to make limited repairs to existing housing structures when those repairs cost less than a lease payment for traditional FEMA trailers.
- Claim disputes are adjudicated quicker and cost overruns are avoided by the establishment of a limited dispute resolution pilot.
- FEMA is required to review and update factors for individual assistance disaster declarations to make them less subjective. The bill provides for disaster declarations for tribal communities.
- FEMA is direceted to submit recommendations to Congress for the development of national strategy to reduce future costs, loss of life, and injuries associated with extreme disaster events.
The current FEMA process is mired in regulations that delay rebuilding for years and drive up project costs.
Streamlined procedures and increased flexibility will allow applicants to recover in a more efficient manner that best serves their community. In addition, H.R. 219 better prepares communities for future extreme disaster events.
Each provision in H.R. 219 was part of the 112th Congress H.R.2903, the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2012, that passed by voice vote on Septemenber 19, 2012.
No CBO cost estimate was available at the time of print. However, no significant cost is anticipated.