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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House leaders to appeal Boston court’s ruling on labor bill

By The Star Staff

Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael Hernán-dez Montañez and House Labor Affairs Committee Chairman Domingo Torres García announced Sunday that they will appeal before the plenary session of the U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit in Boston today the decision that annulled Law 41-2022, the statute that grants more rights to private sector workers in Puerto Rico and that was annulled by the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

Hernández Montañez and Torres Garcías also an-nounced that during the legislative session they will approve House Bill 1651, which contains the same provisions of Law 41-2022, but this time will be accompanied by a fiscal impact report, as required by Section 204. (a) of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which will be prepared by the Budget Office of the Legislative Assembly.

“The protection of the rights of workers in private com-panies will continue to be a priority during the sixth regular session,” Hernández Montañez said in a written statement. “As the country knows, the House of Representatives has led an unprecedented offensive at the legislative, administrative, and judicial levels to achieve this objective, which included the approval of Law 41-2022 to restore the rights of private sector workers, and its strong defense in court when the [oversight] Board claimed that it be declared null, based on a philosophical vision that clearly exceeds the authority granted by the United States Congress.”

“Tomorrow our lawyers will be presenting before the First Circuit of Appeals a request for reconsideration so that the plenary of the judges that constitute this court (“Petition for Rehearing en Banc”) revokes the panel of three judges that on August 10 confirmed the Court of the District of Puerto Rico to declare Law 41-2022 null and void,” Torres García added regarding the requested judicial remedy.

The request of the legislative body is based on three central arguments:

The decision unjustifiably expands the authority and prerogatives of the oversight board, which undermines the fundamental right to self-government, despite the fact that the PROMESA Law limits the role of this entity to mainly guaranteeing compliance with the certified Fiscal Plan.

The decision provides an overly broad interpretation of Section 204(a) to allow the Board to prospectively challenge a law’s taking effect, based on speculation and a philosoph-ical view of what the government’s role should be, without economic data to validate the inconsistency with the certified Fiscal Plan.

The unjustified centralization of Judge Laura Taylor Swain to intervene as the exclusive judge of lawsuits where the Board appears (“judge-shopping”), even when there is no relationship with the bankruptcy of the public finances of the government of Puerto Rico, which creates a dangerous perception of bias that damages the operation of the justice system.

“The appeal also cites the former judge of that forum, Juan R. Torruella, who previously stated that the remedy that our lawyers are requesting must be granted as an exception when the decision under question affects the lives of millions of people and has an adverse effect on the operation of public institutions,” Hernández Montañez said. “Both considerations are present in this case.”

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