• The San Juan Daily Star

Governor convenes special legislative session for next week

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Wednesday convened a special session of the island Legislature that will begin Monday to deal with six measures.

Among the bills is one that would create the new “Law for the Prevention of Abuse and the Preservation of Family Unity” and another that amends several laws in force to allow government retirees to go back to work without affecting their pensions.

Also included is legislation that clarifies the requirements to occupy the position of commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD).

“As I have indicated previously, in special sessions, the matters that must be addressed are immediate and core ones that should not wait any longer,” the governor said. “In the case of the measure that creates the ‘Law for the Prevention of Abuse and the Preservation of Family Unity,’ if not approved, millions in federal funds needed to safeguard the welfare of our children will be lost. I called on all legislators to make way for extremely important legislation that directly affects the life and social environment of our minors and government pensioners, among other sectors of society.”

Another measure included in the special session is Administration Bill 51 (Senate Bill 654), which amends the Civil Code that came into force a year ago. The bill would clarify the statute of limitations for issues related to disabled individuals.

On pensioner issues, Pierluisi included Administration Bill 1 (House Bill 533) to provide the mechanisms for retired workers to obtain a regular job without impacting their pensions.

“Like all the pieces of legislation submitted, I look forward to this bill because any retired public servant who wishes to contribute again to Puerto Rico should do it without losing his pension,” Pierluisi said. “This will help us recruit staff trained for the sectors of education, family, security, among others.”

Under the debt adjustment plan, future retirees are slated to see changes to their benefits. However, current retirees whose pensions are higher than $1,500 a month will see cuts to their pensions.

Another bill that must be evaluated in the extraordinary session is Senate Bill 45, which amends the “Department of Public Safety Act” of 2017 to broaden the requirements for holding the position of NMEAD commissioner, a post currently occupied on an interim basis by rescue professional Nino Correa Filomeno.

As proposed, the person occupying the position must have knowledge and skills in administration and evidence of having obtained, at least, a master’s degree.

After a thorough analysis of the measures included by the governor in the document convening a special session, Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez asked for the inclusion of labor reform in the list of bills.

“The House will meet this coming Monday and will fulfill its constitutional duty,” he said. “However, it should be noted that the bills on the list are not urgent matters that were left pending from the second ordinary session that ended recently, and can be seen in detail in the month of January.”

Hernández Montañez noted that House Bill 3 (Labor Reform) has not been included, considering that it is one of high interest to the working classes, which he said have pinned all their hopes on legislation that does them justice after so many years of constant violations of their labor rights.

“In the House we diligently attended to the Labor Reform and the Labor Affairs Committee, chaired by comrade Domingo Torres García, did an excellent job that included the high participation of various sectors and the unions that represent the country’s workers,” Hernández Montañez added. “We would not like to think that the governor continues to postpone true justice for the working class.”

Pierluisi reiterated to the leaders of the House and Senate his position regarding the amendments to Labor Reform and asked them to analyze the legislation in the next ordinary session, which begins in January.

“On October 31, I sent a letter to the legislative leaders in which I communicated my position regarding the approval of a measure that contains changes to the Labor Reform,” the governor said. “I reiterate that it is my best interest to continue promoting the workforce, and that is why I signed a measure that allows an increase in the minimum wage to begin next January. In addition, my administration is ensuring that our workers have a robust system of legislation that protects their rights. That is why I believe it prudent that both the House of Representatives and the Senate of Puerto Rico can carry out a calm analysis that has the input of the interested parties and that they can reach a consensus measure in the next ordinary session.”

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