Sen. Vitter speaks to Chalmette audienceSep 5th, 2013 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: Top Story
U.S. Senator David Vitter met with constituents in Chalmette last week. Louisiana’s water management/ coastal issues and ObamaCare were the topics of the most popular questions by the public in attendance.
Flood Insurance Changes
“We need to make sure FEMA gets it right with their new maps,” said Vitter. “They’re not there yet.”
The FEMA maps that dictate flood zoning and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rates have been compiled without taking into account all measures of flood protection implemented or under construction in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina.
This omission has caused many areas, especially those outside of the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System (Most, but not all, of St. Bernard Parish is within the protection system.), to see major hikes in their flood insurance premiums. Couple that with the elimination of the NFIP’s grandfathering policy (when structures built in compliance with elevation heights are
always considered in compliance even if heights later increase), and policy holders are left with what federal legislators call “unintended consequences.”
“This could literally put middle-class families out of their homes,” said Vitter. W. Craig Fugate, FEMA’s Administrator, is on the short list to become Head of Homeland Security, said Vitter, prompting the Republican Senator to work with his counterpart across the aisle, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu.
“We wrote [a letter to the President] and said ‘Don’t Fugate], cause we will stop that in a second,” said Vitter.
Water, Water Everywhere
Besides flood insurance changes, a couple of other water related topics came up, such as the Army Corps of Engineers looking at raising Westbank river levees, but not raising the Eastbank’s.
Vitter said at this time he is looking into how this will affect risk in St. Bernard Parish.
The Louisiana Master Plan, created by CPRA (Coastal Protection Restoration Authority), was a concern brought up several times by the public.
The plan has a large scale diversion scheduled at the St. Bernard/Plaquemines Parish line. This 250,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) diversion is comparable to the Bonné Carré spillway and will channel fresh Mississippi River water into brackish marshes. CPRA’s intention is that the river water will deposit sediment and start building land.
The controversial plan has the seafood industry panicked as the change of salinity will destroy current oyster bedding grounds, as well as shrimp and fish habitats. But Sen. Vitter represents Louisiana on the federal level and has no say in the CPRA plan. He did say that he is meeting with CPRA officials and getting educated on the plan.
As Vitter is one of Louisiana’s Senators, he does have a say in federal issues, the most asked about being Obama Care.
Many public speakers implored him to fight to repeal the mandatory health care system, but his hands are tied.
“It’s Civics 101,” said Vitter. Bills are passed in the House, then the Senate, and then signed by the President. With a Democratic pro-Obamacare House, Vitter said a bill to repeal will never pass, much less be signed by Obamacare’s namesake in the White House.
Vitter did offer his thoughts on healthcare:
“We do need concrete alternatives,” he said. “But I don’t want to replace a 2,800 page bill [the length of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] with another 2,800 page bill written by Republicans.”
He said breaking issues of the current healthcare system into separate bills is his solution. Five bills, 25-pages or less, that each deal with a specific problem:
1- Purchase of healthcare coverage should be allowed across state lines.
2- Association members should be able to purchase coverage collectively. For example, a family owned and operated restaurant with a handful of employees might not be able to afford purchasing coverage, but the National Restaurant Association could offer a very affordable plan for its members.
3- Tort Reform: The number of frivolous lawsuits must be cut.
4- Prescription drug costs.
5- Protection for people with pre-existing conditions.
There was discussion on social and welfare programs. The free Government funded cell phone program is out of control with rampant fraud said Vitter.
“In just a few years, it went from $143 million to almost $2 billion dollars,” said Vitter on the program’s funding. Each phone costs $9.25 per month, and tax payers foot the bill. Worse yet, 41 percent of those on the program cannot be validated by the carrier as being “in need.”
Vitter is an adversary of amnesty programs being discussed today.
“At its core, I think it’s repeating a big mistake of the past,” said Vitter, referring to the 1986 blanket amnesty.
Of late, Louisiana has voted Red in presidential elections, and thus is not considered a “battle ground” state. But Vitter said he sees that changing in the 2014 Senatorial election. Whether Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu keeps her seat, or is defeated by a Republican will be watched.
When asked who the GOP could run against Hillary Clinton in the 2016, Vitter said that a lot could change in the more than three years leading up to that race.
“Politically, that is eons away,” he said. “But I think we’ll have several good candidates.”