Governor vetoes House bill that would repeal pro-statehood laws

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia issued his first express veto on Sunday of House Bill 21, which sought to repeal Acts 165 and 167, laws that aim to define Puerto Rico’s political status.

The governor said in a press release that both laws seek to enforce the mandate of the majority of voters who endorsed statehood in the Nov. 3, 2020 plebiscite and, therefore, would constitute a public purpose of the highest priority.

Act 165-2020, also known as the Implement the 2020 Plebiscite Statehood Petition Act, would allow the governor to establish a due date and conditions for running a status plebiscite through an executive decree. Act 167-2020, also known as the Create the Congressional Delegation of Puerto Rico Act, makes feasible an electoral event that allows citizens to vote for six statehood lobbyists who would work in the U.S. Congress.

“This administration will not deviate from the mandate it received from the people and I will not relinquish my responsibility,” the governor said. “Support for statehood is the public policy of the government of Puerto Rico and signing this measure would represent turning my back on the Puerto Ricans who democratically voted in favor of statehood, which won with 52.5%.”

Pierluisi added that it is his responsibility to “enforce the claim of an absolute majority of the voters,” for which reason he vetoed the bill penned by the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) delegation.

“I would have preferred that the first measure that came to my office was one to improve the quality of life of our people, not to obviate and reject the clear mandate given to us by the majority of the voters,” Pierluisi said. “I will do everything in my power to achieve the equality that our people asked for with their vote, because to do otherwise would be to violate my oath as governor of Puerto Rico.”

According to the press release, the Legislature has 13 administration measures to be evaluated that address issues such as protection for crime victims and witnesses, equal pay, and a debt audit, to name a few.

“Most of them have not been addressed, as well as the appointments submitted by the governor,” stated the press release.

The STAR asked House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez, of the PDP, for a reaction, but was unable to obtain one by press time.

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