Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly begins second regular session
SAN JUAN — The second regular session of Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly began Monday without major setbacks and the passage of 11 bills in the House of Representatives, another 12 bills in Senate, and a discussion about where Popular Democratic Party (PDP) representatives would be seated.
After a three-hour recess, the upper chamber passed Senate Bill 102, which adds to the places approved for mothers to leave their children in the care of the state, as well as to list support programs for mothers who hand their children over to the Women’s Advocate Office.
Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. José Vargas Vidot introduced amendments to “humanize” the bill’s language, among which is a 30-day extension, to 60 days, for the Family Department to establish protocol was approved.
Among the bills passed by the House was Senate Bill 142, which creates an Interagency Committee to design and offer training to Education Department employees on how to identify cases of child sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, House Bill 404 establishes an interdisciplinary working group to evaluate minors suspected of being victims of abuse by family members, while H.B. 868 allows for people jailed for failing to make alimony payments to be sent to harvest coffee beans.
House PDP caucus complete
During the first day of the session, House PDP Minority Leader Rafael Hernández said his party’s caucus was complete after Reps. Manuel Natal, Luis Vega Ramos and Luis Raúl Torres were reintegrated as part of the delegation.
“We notify you that we have all the members of the Popular Party delegation within the caucus of the Popular Party. We have already assigned it for the different committees and look forward to your [House speaker’s] determination,” Rep. Tatito Hernández said.
The discussion began when the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation questioned the location of three so-called dissidents’ seats within the chamber and saying the lawmakers could not move from their assigned seats without communicating it officially.
“The instructions to the Sergeant of Arms is to return to each legislator to the seats that had been assigned, until you [Hernández] and I sit with the spokesman of the majority and see how the seating will be are configured,” Méndez said.
The House established a recess until Thursday, Aug. 23 at 11 a.m., while the Senate will resume its labor on Monday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.
The House will be in recess until Thursday, Aug. 24 at 11 a.m., while the Senate resumes work Monday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.