The Associated Press March 4, 2011, 11:01AM ET

Ill. lawmaker seeks flood insurance rate freeze

An Illinois federal lawmaker is stumping again for legislation that would stave off property owners from having to buy mandatory and perhaps expensive flood insurance in areas newly designated by the government as being at high risk.

The measure introduced Thursday by Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello of Belleville would block the new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood-insurance rate maps from taking effect in areas where there's an active effort to fix levees.

The bill mirrors one Costello introduced in the last congressional session.

Officials in Illinois worry new FEMA maps soon will declare 64 miles of earthen Mississippi River levees in southwestern Illinois functionally useless, meaning higher insurance rates.

FEMA believes those levees, more than a half-century old, do not meet its minimum threshold for certification.

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