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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House approves taxpayer incentive, Ponce airport transfer

The island House of Representatives approved a number of measures as it opened the year’s only session earlier this week, including one to finance the costs of a taxpayer incentive and another that would transfer Mercedita International Airport to the city of Ponce.

By The Star Staff

The island House of Representatives approved several measures earlier this week, including one to finance the costs of providing an incentive to taxpayers for the 2023 tax year and another that would transfer Mercedita International Airport to the city of Ponce.

House Joint Resolution 583 seeks to allocate $250 million to the Treasury Department from the General Fund to provide tax incentives to middle-class workers for the tax year that ended Dec. 31.

The measure was approved in a 49-0 vote on Monday, the first day of the year’s only regular session, which is also the last session of the current four-year legislative term.

The House also passed a bill making the exposure of obscene material to minors a crime.

An explanatory memorandum for House Bill (HB) 1821, authored by Dignity Project Rep. Lisie Burgos Muñiz, refers to “the criteria that the Supreme Court of the United States describes obscenity as a work that appeals to ‘prurient interest,’ illustrates or describes sexual conduct in a ‘patently offensive’ manner and viewed as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

Meanwhile, the House approved HB 1310, authored by Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. José “Conny” Varela Fernández, which seeks to amend the “Law for the Administration of Jury Service in Puerto Rico.”

The measure would exempt doctors, nurses and teachers in the public or private education system of Puerto Rico from serving as jurors.

“Although the legislative intention regarding the objectives of this Law is reaffirmed, it is no less true that the situation of a sector of the population is eligible to be sworn who, due to their nature and the profession they carry out, should be exempt from giving their time as the trier of fact,” reads the bill. “Such is the case of medical, nursing and teaching professionals at the public and private levels of the country.”

The House also unanimously approved HB 1617, which transfers Mercedita International Airport to the Ponce Port Authority.

“I am satisfied that, finally, this piece of legislation has been passed so that the Mercedita Airport passes to the Ponce Port Authority,” said PDP Rep. Domingo Torres García, who authored the measure. “I am convinced that these facilities have the potential to transform and develop the southern region of Puerto Rico, positively impacting tourism, and consequently creating jobs.”

Mercedita International Airport is one of the main assets believed to be necessary for revitalizing Ponce and neighboring towns. In recent years, it has represented an arrival alternative for more than 50,000 passengers from Orlando, Florida. At the same time, it is the workplace for more than 50 citizens of the southern region, including JetBlue airline, vehicle rental dealers, and administrative and maintenance staff.

“This airport will directly impact the southern region, not only from an economic point of view, but also represents a matter of national security,” Torres García said. “The country’s public policy cannot be aimed at maintaining two airports with international capacity; it is time to see Mercedita International Airport as an extremely important asset.”

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