After devastating levels of rain pounded New York in the wake of tropical storms Irene and Lee, Rep. Chris Gibson has decided to add his voice to support legislation giving states a financial incentive to improve building code standards.

Gibson, R-Kinderhook, announced Thursday that he will co-sponsor the Safe Building Code Incentive Act of 2011. That bill, introduced in June by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL, would make states eligible for an additional 4 percent of federal post-disaster funding after an emergency declaration if those states adopt nationally recognized building codes.

“The economic losses from weather-related disasters in 2011 have been the most expensive in U.S. history,” Gibson said in a letter to his congressional colleagues. “As we rebuild communities around the United States, now is an opportune time to find solutions that will better protect communities and reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters.”

Under the proposed law, the executive branch would review building codes submitted by the states, and approve them if they meet national standards. More than 30 states would already qualify or would qualify with minor building code changes, Gibson said, but the bill also contains provisions offering financial assistance to states so they can develop appropriate standards.

Gibson cited a Louisiana State University study showing that stronger building codes would have reduced wind damage stemming from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and reduced the eventual cost of the disaster by $8 billion.

Flooding from Irene in late August and Lee in early September destroyed crops, homes and businesses across upstate. Gibson said he hoped the passage of the Incentive Act would offer some measure of protection against future disasters.

“Passage of this legislation would reduce the need for post-disaster funding as more homes and buildings are likely to withstand higher impacts,” Gibson said, “therefore minimizing damage.”

Read more: