WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump put the final touch on new federal legislation designed to clear a number of bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles that were making it difficult for 2016 Louisiana flood victims to receive federal aid.
The bill Trump signed Friday, two days after Congress passed it overwhelmingly, will give flooded homeowners who took out low-interest Small Business Administration loans access to Restore Louisiana grants and ease recovery for local governments and school districts.
The changes to federal disaster-relief policy were included in a broader package of federal transportation regulations and funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. The bill also includes nearly $1.7 billion in aid to rebuild areas slammed by Hurricane Florence.
Changing the federal government’s so-called “duplication of benefits” regulations — which effectively blocked flooded homeowners who’d borrowed money from the SBA from accessing rebuilding grants — has been a priority of Louisiana lawmakers for more than two years.
The law could also deliver millions more in federal rebuilding money to Baton Rouge area school districts by lessening federal penalties for not carrying flood insurance.
Other provisions in the law direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to more often cover the cost of repairing flooded local roads and creates an independent arbitration process for local governments to challenge FEMA decisions.