Bill Filed to Eliminate Dry Law for Sunday GOP Primary
SAN JUAN – New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Urayoán Hernández introduced a bill Friday that seeks to eliminate the implementation of the alcohol sales prohibition, or dry law, during the Republican presidential primary to be held Sunday in Puerto Rico.
Article 12.021 of Act 78 of 2011 states that alcoholic beverages cannot be sold on election days, thus the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish acronym) implemented the prohibition of alcohol sales Sunday.
The legislator for Orocovis, Barranquitas, Villalba and Coamo said Friday that the impact of the dry law on businesses is too harsh to continue its implementation, added that he will also present a resolution to study the actual benefits the dry law has had during government elections on the island over the past 30 years.
“This process next Sunday, the presidential primaries, does not warrant that the prohibition provision be used. It is a low-participation election compared with the general elections and the [local] party primaries. Therefore, we believe the elections law should be amended so this provision is not enforced during this type of event,” Hernández said.
“For several weeks, there have been many owners of small and midsize businesses, the vast majority of whom are Puerto Rican, who have approached us to inform us about their concerns on the negative impact this law will have on the economy,” he said. “The amount money that stops flowing in our economy is substantial and does not equal the alleged benefits of the law.”
The law states that anyone who sells or gives away alcohol from 12 a.m. to 9 p.m. the day of a public election will be charged with a misdemeanor offense. The violation’s penalty is a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for a maximum of 90 days.
Meanwhile Police Superintendent José L. Caldero said in a statement Friday that the only exceptions to the law are cruiseship restaurants and bars or Tourism Co.-certified hotels and paradores.
He added that as superintendent, he does not have the power to amend the legislation, “which rests on the Legislature and the governor.”
“Under the Law of the Puerto Rico Police, law enforcement officials are here to enforce the laws. That is, no one is exempt from complying with existing laws in our legal system,” Caldero stated.
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