The following is based on a November 3 press
release from the Congressional Black Caucus.
All 42 House members of the Congressional Black
Caucus (CBC) today introduced HR 4197, the Hurricane Katrina
Recovery, Reclamation, Restoration, Reconstruction and Reunion
Act of 2005. The bill is designed to provide for the recovery
of the Gulf Coast region and for the reunion of families devastated
by Hurricane Katrina.
During the press conference, the CBC also called
on President Bush and on Democratic and Republican members of
the House and Senate to support its comprehensive legislative
response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and to make
a commitment to eradicate poverty.
A summary of the bill follows:
KATRINA RECOVERY, RECLAMATION, RESTORATION,
AND REUNION ACT OF 2005
The bill introduced on November 2, 2005
by all 42 House members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
is called the Hurricane Katrina Recovery, Reclamation, Restoration,
Reconstruction and Reunion Act of 2005. HR 4197 emphasizes
two critical objectives the CBC and many others have considered
most important since Hurricane Katrina -- the desire to see
the Gulf Coast restored fully and the desire to see the residents
of the Gulf Coast reunited with their families. The following
is a summary of some of the important provisions of the bill.
Title I – Victim Restoration Fund: Uses the model
approved by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- having
a Special Master make an individual evaluation of the amount
each claimant is to receive. Instead of making a determination
of the amount due for each claim as a result of death as was
the case under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, however, under
the Victim Restoration Fund the Special Master's job would be
to determine what compensation is necessary to restore each
individual Hurricane Katrina claimant to his or her pre-Katrina
condition. The Special Master would be required to offset recoveries
to each claimant from collateral sources (insurance, government
sources, etc) and would be authorized to accept non-government
funds to help reduce the financial burden on the Federal government.
Title II – Environmental Provisions: Requires
the EPA to develop, in consultation with state officials,
a comprehensive environmental sampling and toxicity assessment
plan (CESTAP) including public health assessments and monitoring,
training of clean up workers, notification to the public of
risks, a step-by-step process for allowing residents to return
to their property, a process of compensating those unable
to return to their property because of environmental conditions
and independent review of determinations.
Title III – Health Provisions:
- Subtitle C provides 100% Federal coverage of
unemployment benefits (marked up 25% or $100 per week, whichever
is greater) to Katrina survivors for 26 additional weeks.
Title IV – Housing & Community Rebuilding
Provisions: Authorizes additional Federal funds for the Hurricane
Katrina disaster area for the following purposes and in the
$10 million for Housing
Counseling for families in temporary shelters.
Title IV also prohibits placement of persons
displaced by Katrina in substandard housing, provides for
more vigorous enforcement of Fair Housing laws, gives people
displaced by Katrina preference for HUD inventory and foreclosed
properties, and establishes a mortgage payment fund for
payment of mortgages similar to the fund authorized under
Title III for the payment of private health insurance premiums.
Title V – Education Provisions: To
help meet the educational needs of the Katrina areas and
evacuees from these areas:
Subtitle C provides
additional funding for elementary and secondary schools to
help students relocated as a result of Hurricane Katrina and
school systems to which they were relocated, to help rebuild
and restart the operation of schools in the Katrina areas,
to help homeless youth, for community learning centers, for
construction, modernization and repair of school facilities
damaged by Hurricane Katrina and for teacher incentive programs;
Title VI – Voting Rights: Provides Katrina evacuees
the same absentee ballot and registration provisions available
to military personnel and authorizes up to $50 million in
grants for the restoration and replacement of election supplies,
materials and equipment damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Title VII – Financial Services Provisions:
Waives certain regulations, capital requirements, fees and
customer identification requirements to facilitate financial
transactions for persons displaced by Katrina, provides technical
assistance to minority financial institutions and allows CDFI
Fund resources to be used for disaster relief in the Katrina
Title VIII – Expanded
Opportunity and Small Business Provisions:
Subtitle A reinstates
Davis-Bacon wage requirements, sets small and minority business,
local (Gulf Coast) business and local employee participation
goals in post-Katrina contracting, requires financial incentives
to be provided to meet these goals, requires contractors to
provide apprenticeship opportunities and reinstates affirmative
action requirements suspended by President Bush after Hurricane
Subtitle B authorizes
additional funding for new SBA disaster loans and increases
loan caps on SBA loans to small businesses impacted by Hurricane
Katrina, allows the SBA to defer payments and refinance existing
loans, authorizes additional funding for business counseling,
small business development centers and HubZones and increases
the surety bonding threshold for Katrina related procurement
Title IX – Tax Provisions: Provides tax credits
of up to $5,000 for persons or families displaced by Hurricane
Katrina who purchase or construct homes in Hurricane Katrina
area, increases the low-income housing credit dollar amount
and allows the issuance of federally guaranteed, tax exempt
bonds for reconstruction of the Katrina disaster area.
Title X – Bankruptcy: Exempts victims
of natural disasters from most provisions of the Bankruptcy
reform law that recently became effective.
Title XI – Miscellaneous Provisions:
Requires FEMA to reimburse entities that performed services
that should have been performed by FEMA following Hurricane
Katrina if the entity requests reimbursement and allows retroactive
purchase of flood insurance by victims of Hurricane Katrina
who did not live in a designated flood plain.
Title XII – Eradicating Poverty: Expresses
the sense of Congress that the President should present within
6 months a plan to eradicate poverty in the United States
within 10 years.
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