Rep. José González Mercado
By THE STAR STAFF
Rep. José “Memo” González Mercado asked the island Senate on Tuesday to approve House Bill (HB) 1578, which establishes a single amount to pay in the Autoexpreso system regardless of the number of toll infractions.
“It is urgent that we do justice to the hundreds of thousands of drivers who travel on the highways of the island and who have been, for too long, subject to a defective Autoexpreso system that does not adhere to the current reality,” González Mercado said. “I call on the Senate of Puerto Rico to provide the fair relief that our citizens deserve by approving HB 1578 as soon as possible. Every day that passes without it being law, is one more day in which drivers are punished.”
The New Progressive Party legislator filed the bill on Jan. 9, along with a bipartisan group of representatives including House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez.
The measure was passed by the House on Jan. 17 with 42 votes in favor.
“By providing that the fine established here is not tied to the number of times that tolls were exceeded without a balance during the course of those 15 days of the first offense, the deterrent nature of the penalty is maintained, but while offering the user a more reasonable period of time to comply with the payment of tolls and without excessively penalizing what after all is an action that can be consider a single act,” said González Mercado, the District 14 (Arecibo and Hatillo) representative. “In this way, users have enough time to, once notified, make the adjustments to recharge their balance and pay.”
González Mercado has been promoting changes in the Autoexpreso system since the last four-year term.
“With this law, collections for toll payments and for the use of the highways are not affected, we minimize the impact on the citizen’s pocket by offering a greater opportunity to be in compliance with the payment of tolls, and we facilitate for the user a period of recharge without penalties more in tune with the economic reality …” the lawmaker said.