Governor enacts measure to make $5 million in legislative funds available to towns for another year
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia signed eight measures into law on Tuesday, including House Joint Resolution (HJR) 182, which extends for one year the validity of the $5 million in legislative funds earmarked for municipalities, agencies and public instrumentalities.
The governor also signed into law House Bill 24, which increases funds to the Foundation Fund for Access to Justice.
By giving way to HJR 182, the governor authorized the allocation of $5.4 million to municipalities, agencies and public instrumentalities from the Municipal Improvement Fund to carry out permanent works and improvements. The money was authorized last year through Joint Resolutions 43 and 44 of 2020, but allocations were delayed due to the measures taken to control the COVID-19 pandemic, including the lockdown.
Meanwhile, and as part of his commitment to the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, Pierluisi signed House Bill 544 into law so that undercover agents, zone commanders and auxiliaries, as well as the directors of various divisions, including the bureau’s Domestic Violence division, are exempt from complying with Law 60 of 2014 known as the “Uniform Law of Official Vehicles of the Government of Puerto Rico.”
The law provides that no agency head or official is authorized to use any official vehicle once the working day has concluded and establishes that at the end of the working day, they are obliged to deliver the official vehicle to the agency.
“Although the purpose of Law 60 is that government officials, once they finish their work day, do not use the official vehicle to go home, in the case of the Police Bureau it is different because its members expose their lives 24/7 to protect citizens,” Pierluisi said.
To that end, the governor recalled that a few weeks ago the Protection Order Operations Center (COPOP by its Spanish acronym) was inaugurated to centralize and structure the processing of protection orders. Also, more than 140 vehicles valued at almost $7 million have been delivered to the Police Bureau.
The governor also enacted Senate Bills 174 and 175 to create a special legal emancipation so that 18-year-olds can request and use their financial services and can participate with voice and vote in the assemblies.
Pierluisi also signed Senate Joint Resolution 141 requiring that the Institute of Statistics, in a period of three months, carry out the pertinent steps to request that a question about deafness and hearing loss be included in the 2030 Census and in the Survey of the Community of Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, through HJR 152, the government will transfer Carlos Martínez Benítez elementary school to the municipality of Guayama. The governor also enacted into law legislation eliminating the Naming Commission of Structures and Public Roads because most of the determination of names for hospitals, schools, housing estates and highways, among other places, has fallen to the Legislative Assembly.
Lastly, the governor issued an express veto to House Bill 14, through which it was proposed that the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. be a separate and independent public corporation from any other department, agency or public instrumentality of the island government.
In a letter sent to the legislative leadership, Pierluisi expressed agreement with respecting the autonomy that, as a public corporation, the Tourism Co. had maintained since its inception. However, he stated that the proposed mechanism is not the correct one because “it intends to change functions and powers that the DMO [Destination Marketing Organization] currently has.”