• The San Juan Daily Star

Governor signs law to expedite reconstruction projects

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Wednesday signed into law several legislative measures, among them House Bill 651, which establishes rigorous and at the same time expeditious processes for public agencies, municipalities, instrumentalities, individuals and corporations to carry out reconstruction projects subsidized with federal funds without delay.

The law will apply exclusively to projects or initiatives financed with funds and disbursements provided through the Community Development Block Grant Program for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), allocated by the Federal Agency for Disaster Relief. Emergency Management (FEMA) and those from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“Reconstruction in Puerto Rico is a priority of my administration, that is why we have been immersed in expediting the use of the funds that we have available for the construction of works,” the governor said. “Also, thanks to the relationships with the federal government, funds have been released and bureaucratic processes have been streamlined, thus achieving greater speed in disbursements and the start of permanent work projects that had not been possible in past years.”

Pierluisi added that in January of this year there were about 338 projects underway and now there are more than 550. He noted that of some 500 homes repaired or built as of December of last year, there are currently over 3,000. “This has been a great achievement and I am convinced that the work we are already doing will continue to increase in this coming year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the governor signed into law House Bill 402, the purpose of which is that any person or entity that uses an unmanned aerial system, generally known as a drone, to photograph or record people or property without proper consent and without a search warrant, will be charged with a misdemeanor.

The established prohibition will not be applied in emergency or security situations that represent an imminent danger to life or serious bodily harm, in search and rescue procedures and when they are used as part of an operation, exercise or mission of any military branch of the federal government.

The governor also gave way to several measures related to education, including the House Joint Resolution (HJR) 77, which orders Education (DE) Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés to present to the Legislature the work carried out under Law 56 of 2018 ordering the inclusion of sign language courses in the agency’s educational curriculum.

Pierluisi also signed HJR 78, so that the Education and Recreation & Sports departments analyze and study the possibility that a school specialized in sports be established in the facilities of the old Basilio Milan school in Toa Baja.

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