Puerto Rico Legislative Review for the week of December 18, 2017
On Friday, December 15, the Senate approved the “Adoption Law of Puerto Rico” bill. The legislative bill seeks to reform adoption in Puerto Rico by making it a more effective process. It establishes that the adoption term not exceed more than two months, making it 15 days less than the current law, and that the process of adoption become simpler. The goal of this bill to help the Department of Family give children a good and safe home at a faster pace than before. The bill is being promoted by the President of the House of Representatives, Carlos Méndez Núñez.
Méndez is also involved in a religious freedom bill. This more controversial bill has already been approved by the house. It has gained attention because it will now go into a committee before being sent to the governor to sign. It has received heavy pushback because it allows religious rights take precedence over individual rights. It makes it legal to discriminate against homosexual people by making it legal to refuse services based on religious beliefs. It also means that companies based in Puerto Rico can refuse to pay their female employees birth control through health benefits. The governor has been firmly against the bill, since it legalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Another bill pending to be signed or rejected by the governor is focused on reforming the juvenile delinquency system. The bill involves various changes to the treatment of minors in courts, such as not having to appear in court with handcuffs and eliminating solitary confinement. It also dictates that in cases in which a minor of 12 years old or less commits a misdemeanor, the family is to be reported to, and evaluated by, the Department of Family. The majority of senators voted in favor of the bill for its more humane approach to juvenile delinquency. Then again, there are prominent figures that have gone against the bill for being overreaching and not being based on scientific evidence. The bill is based on the presumption that minors commit more crimes than adults.