Governor convokes extraordinary session of Legislature
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Monday summoned all legislators to an extraordinary session starting Wednesday to address Administration Bill 79, equivalent to Senate Bill 931, to create the “Law to Mitigate the Increase in the Price of Energy in Puerto Rico.”
The measure establishes the transfer of $145 million from the State Insurance Fund Corp. (CFSE by its Spanish initials) to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and $20 million to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) to mitigate or avoid service increases.
“As I announced in the past few days, I am calling all senators and representatives to an Extraordinary Session so that they can approve this measure that seeks to provide relief to the pocketbooks of the people,” the governor said in a written statement. “The refusal of the legislative leadership to take up this bill in the Ordinary Session caused the Energy Bureau to implement an increase in the electricity bill as a consequence of the rise in the cost of fuel.”
However, the regulatory entity could reconsider that decision if we can provide the funds that the Electric Power Authority needs to meet those fuel costs,” he added. “I hope that the members of the Legislative Assembly, regardless of party colors or lines, evaluate and approve this measure in favor of the people on its merits.”
The call to the extraordinary session also includes the approval of the appointments of: José J. Monge Gómez and Waleska I. Aldebol Mora as Appeals Court judges; Rodney J. Ríos Medina and Juan M. Guzmán Escobar as Superior Court judges; Thaizza M. Rodríguez Pagán as attorney for family affairs; Lilliam Rodríguez Capó and Dr. Jorge Hess Riutort to the Health Insurance Administration board of directors; Carola Ballester Descartes to the Institute of Statistics board of directors; Héctor J. del Río Jiménez, Alberto J. Castañer Padró and Iván E. López Báez to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority governing board; and Rebecca Rivera Torres, Mercemar Rodríguez Santiago and José Díaz Díaz to the Puerto Rico Planning Board.
Later on Monday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez asked the governor to add other measures to the extraordinary session.
“The [governor] … has called the Legislative Assembly to a Special Session. The country can be certain that we will respond to this call with the diligence and commitment that has characterized us,” Hernández Montañez said in a written statement. “The high cost of energy and its detrimental effect on the pockets of Puerto Ricans represent a priority issue for this House of Representatives. For this reason, we reiterate to the Governor that he amend the call and include the five measures detailed in the communication we sent him last Friday (Senate Bill 525, SB 728, SB 813, SB 818 and SB 906) to provide real relief to the consumer and reduce the high costs of doing business that suffocate our people.”
“This reformulation of public policy, in coordination with House Bills 774 and 1383, which we approved during the closing session, are essential to make the construction of a truly stable, reliable and accessible energy system viable,” the House speaker added. “For this reason, we ask you to reaffirm the commitment provided in this call to provide relief in energy costs, stamping your signature on both [House] measures for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans and allowing them to become law.”