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Houck promises Louisa County quake tax break
Houck says he'll seek state tax credit for Louisa homeowners with earthquake damage

Date published: 11/1/2011

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

State Sen. Edd Houck says he plans to submit a bill in the 2012 General Assembly session that would provide a state tax credit to Louisa County homeowners with earthquake damage.

If he is re-elected, that is.

Houck, D-Spotsylvania County, announced his bill just about a week before the Nov. 8 election. He faces Republican Bryce Reeves for the 17th state Senate district seat, which includes Louisa.

Damage from the August earthquake, centered in Louisa, is estimated in the millions of dollars in the county. That includes at least $15 million in damages to private homes.

Houck said damage discovered since the initial assessments brings that total to more like $22 million. Most of the property owners did not have earthquake insurance.

Gov. Bob McDonnell last month asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to approve individual assistance for those damages, but FEMA rejected the claim. McDonnell filed an appeal last week.

Houck said the bill is intended to provide help and certainty to people in Louisa, and the bill--if passed--would take effect only if FEMA rejects that appeal.

"If FEMA doesn't come through, if FEMA lets down the people of Louisa, the message is both the county and the state is willing to step up and try to provide some sort of relief," Houck said in a conference call with reporters.

Houck envisions the bill as a one-time income tax credit, available to property owners who sustained earthquake damage, had no insurance and received no financial assistance from FEMA.

He said the state Department of Emergency Management would document the earthquake-related property damages, and the tax credit would apply only to repairs to a home as it existed before the earthquake.

Houck said the state has approved tax credits for a number of other purposes. He also said the earthquake damage is different from damage from hurricanes or other disasters, because those are generally seasonal events and insurance often covers wind or flood damage.

The earthquake, Houck said, was unprecedented and unpredictable.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com