Bill to prevent water rate hike during droughts passed in Puerto Rico House
SAN JUAN — During the second day of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives’s second regular session, it approved House Bill 285 to prohibit rate hikes by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) were the governor to declare a state of emergency due to drought.
“Drought emergency periods should not be used by the State as a pretext to increase the cost of the essential service,” reads the bill authored by New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Jorge Navarro Suárez.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, highlights that in 2015, when a state of emergency was declared via executive order, the public utility considered increasing the price of water to reduce consumption and generate additional revenue.
To prevent this from happening again, H.B. 285 proposes to amend the Uniform Act for Rate Revision and Modification to prevent a rate hike while an executive order that decrees a state of emergency is in force
“Puerto Ricans suffer enough during droughts to be penalized with water rate hikes. In addition, water rate hikes during drought periods represent a hard blow to thousands of small businesses,” the bill reads.
Meanwhile, H.B. 769 was also approved to address non-compete contracts and clauses. Specifically, the proposal dictates that it will be “public policy” to prevent employees who were dismissed by companies “not to be hired in the same industry.”
“It is public policy of the Government of Puerto Rico to watch for workers’ best interests, safeguard job security and offer protection against arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable actions by employers,” it reads.
Meanwhile, House Bill 847 proposes to amend the Puerto Rico Funeral Services Act to empower the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) to include in its rules of procedure to dictate burial, exhumation, and shipment fees.
The House decreed a recess until Monday, Aug. 28, at 11 a.m., by which time it will hold a special session to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ombudsman. The ordinary session will resume at 1 p.m., as will the Senate.