By John McPhaul
On the last day of approval of legislative measures, the House of Representatives passed a bill to establish the transition of power in the municipalities when it is outside the election process and another measure to eliminate the holding of presidential primaries.
House Bill 1272, authored by Rep. Orlando Aponte Rosario, proposes to eliminate the holding of presidential primary elections in Puerto Rico due to their fiscal impact.
The measure would repeal Chapter 8-B of the Electoral Code (Law 58-2020), which contains the provisions on such symbolic elections.
“We believe that the high cost of a merely symbolic and non-binding process could be redirected to impact public institutions that need it most or reallocated to increase the salaries of certain public employees who have recently fought for a living wage,” reads the bill’s preamble. “We believe that democracy is exercised when you have the power and the ability to choose. This Legislative Assembly believes it is necessary and urgent to ensure the proper management of public funds and eliminate Chapter 7 and 8-B on Primaries and Presidential Elections of National Parties, the results of which have no practical effect on them.”
In its final tally on Saturday, the legislation received 27 votes in favor and 20 against.
House Bill 1385, meanwhile, authored by New Progressive Party Rep. Ángel Morey Noble, was unanimously approved. The legislation seeks to equalize the administrative transition processes in the municipalities, in the cases of death, resignation or dismissal of a mayor.
Currently, the transition processes after an electoral event have the format of public hearings, where the deponents answer the questions of the members of the Incoming Transition Committee.
“This reality serves as a legal basis for a new mayor who replaces another, to be able to appoint a Transition Committee that exercises the prerogatives, powers and faculties that the Municipal Code establishes, so that the incoming mayor can have a clear and precise idea of the physical, legal and fiscal state of the municipality over which he/she assumes the reins and administration,” Morey Noble pointed out in the reasons for filing the measure.
“Although it is true that the Municipal Code contemplates the carrying out of transition processes, after the departure of a mayor, regardless of the circumstances, there is not total certainty about the totality of the powers that an Incoming Transition Committee has to carry out an exhaustive and rigorous investigation of the municipal situation,” he added.
The measure also clarifies that all mayors, their representatives, designated officials, as well as other municipal officials and employees, have the obligation and the ministerial duty to participate in the transition process of their municipality, including, but not limited to, appearing to testify, answer questions related to the general state of finances and the municipal administration, and to produce the books, papers, records or documents that are required.