House speaker doesn’t rule out override of governor’s hospital measure veto
Méndez Núñez on legislation, secretary of State nomination and primaries
SAN JUAN — The president of the House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, said Thursday that lawmakers do not rule out going over the veto of the governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, to a measure related to the situation of hospitals amid the COVID-19 emergency.
“That they bother, I am not going to deny to you that some bother (the vetoes), specifically three measures that we approved that were aimed at bringing financial resources to the hospitals…. Such measures are annoying, although it must be recognized that it is part of the governor’s constitutional power, as it is also part of the constitutional power that [legislative] bodies override that veto,” Méndez Nuñez said in a radio interview (NotiUno).
Regarding the measure related to hospitals that would prevent the dismissal of employees in the midst of the coronavirus emergency, Méndez Nuñez said he has not discussed it with the president of the Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, but that overriding the veto “is an option that we still have.”
The governor reportedly vetoed Joint Senate Resolution 507, which ordered the Department of the Treasury to offer financial incentives to hospitals, Diagnostic and Treatment Centers and Family Health Centers, and granted a moratorium for the payment of utilities until June.
Meanwhile, the House speaker said he expects Rep. Lourdes Ramos to introduce new legislation that would prevent the Legislature from overriding the governor’s veto of Joint House Resolution 655, which sought to maintain the University of Puerto Rico Retirement System. He admitted that together with Rivera Schatz, they considered overriding that resolution’s veto.
“Yes, we have discussed it, specifically one that was aimed at saving the Retirement System of the University of Puerto Rico. We were ready to go over the veto but we spoke with the governor and comrade Lourdes Ramos is working on a new version of that measure and we gave deference to the governor and comrade so that they present us with the document so that we can then make a final decision, ” he claimed.
On the other hand, Méndez Nuñez announced that the Senate will pass the Civil Code bill next week and that the House should concur with that version.
“I don’t think there’s discord (between the legislative bodies)…. I think the amendments that the Senate has introduced have been shared with us and I do not think there is any major objection unless there is a last-minute amendment. But we would concur with what the Senate is going to approve. We had already approved it, it is simply a matter of procedure,” Méndez said.
Regarding the appointment of the secretary of the State Department, Elmer Román, the House speaker said the nominee “finished submitting all documents on Monday to the House of Representatives. We already began the evaluation of that documentation. We have been in dialogue with him. He has to visit several colleagues who have raised objections to his appointment. We have given him that opportunity. As soon as the evaluation is finished and the report is presented, we will discuss it in the caucus and a decision will be made. On Monday, he did not have the votes. When the next caucus is held, I will be able to say whether or not he has the votes.”
Méndez Nuñez also said the local primaries are likely to be held between the end of July and mid-August at the latest. Regarding the Democratic primaries on the island, he said “this primary is totally unnecessary,” given that the presumptive nominee is Joe Biden. In addition, Méndez rejected that voting by mail is allowed as proposed in the new Electoral Code.