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Senate Closes Special Session, Approves 27 Designations

By on December 6, 2016

SAN JUAN – Despite having 11 absent senators, the Puerto Rico Senate confirmed Monday 27 designations, approved four legislative measures, and ended labors for this special session, vetoing at least two bills included by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla.

The two measures that didn’t obtain the necessary votes were House Bills 2924 and 3001. The former sought to amend various subsections of the Teachers Retirement System related to pensioners’ defined contributions. Meanwhile, the latter proposed the creation of a Legislative Center for Fiscal Analysis and Innovation that would issue a certification guaranteeing the availability of funds  prior to approving a given bill. In this instance, it echoes similar measures set forth by the Puerto Rico Oversight & Economic Management Act (Promesa), the Congress bill that established the fiscal oversight board on the territory.

Senate President Eduardo Bhatia (center), discusses with the leaders from the three political parties during one of the recesses in the session. (Cindy Burgos/CB)

Senate President Eduardo Bhatia (center), discusses with the leaders from the three political parties during one of the recesses in the session. (Cindy Burgos/CB)

On the other hand, among the 27 approved desginations, a few stand out. These include Senate Chief of Staff Gina Méndez Miró as judge in the Court of Appeals; Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Efraín de Jesús as Superior Court judge; Families and Children Administration Director Irisel Collazo Nazario as an assistant prosecutor, and Child Support Administration Director Rosabelle Padín Batista as Superior Court judge.

Concerning the designation of prosecutor Wilda Nin Pacheco to a higher position in the judicial branch, it was opposed by New Progressive Party (NPP) Minority Leader Larry Seilhamer, citing her handling in the case of former Capitol Superintendent Eliezer Velázquez for supposed infringements to the Political Campaign Control Act as “hasty, rugged, and hurried” in order to “get a hearing before an electoral event.”

Some of the approved bills include resolution (S.R. 1449), which formally requests a presidential pardon from U.S. President Barack Obama to Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Another approved resolution (S.R. 1446) will rename the Senatorial Gallery of Puerto Rican Art in the Capitol’s basement in honor of outgoing Sen. Antonio Faz Alzamora.

House Bill 2930 was also approved, which, among other things, states that Treasury has to require a certification stating that a person has no debts related to child support before granting any lottery prize winnings.

Meanwhile, House Bill 3011 allows pregnant women to decide who will accompany them during labor, and House Bill 2383 proposes the creation of a Domestic Employee Bill of Rights.

PDP Senate Majority Leader Aníbal José Torres confirmed to Caribbean Business that these measures will now pass on to the governor’s consideration, who didn’t discard calling on a second special session to attend bills that were left unaddressed.

However, there isn’t a list of the all measures the Senate approved during this special session.

Regarding this, Senate President Eduardo Bhatia indicated the legislative body saw “85%” of the measures it could evaluate, since the remaining correspond to the House of Representatives. The senator seized the opportunity to snap back at critics who complained the Legislature had been “wasting time” during this special session, which could be extended until today.

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