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Author: Hannah Cartwright

Questions arise over unregistered lobbyists convening with legislators

Reports and rumors have been swirling over groups that are operating outside of federal and local lobbying regulations in Puerto Rico, and they are doing so by abusing legal loopholes. Lobbyists are individuals who are paid by groups to represent and defend their pet issues to legislators. The practice is a form of free speech protected by the Constitution. However, since 1995’s Lobbying Disclosure Act was enacted, individuals paid to lobby at a federal level must be registered and must file reports on their activities. This crucial legislation helps to ensure and maintain transparency in federal lawmaking. In a recent...

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Puerto Rico government plans to cut Medicaid to help balance budget

Puerto Rico is being forced to cut $840 million from its Medicaid budget as part of its agreement with the Financial Oversight and Management Board to reduce its debt. While the islands’ Medicaid expenditures do constitute a large portion of the $70 billion debt the islands are desperately trying to crawl out of, the cuts are still controversial. It is no secret that many Puerto Ricans are poor, with the US Census Bureau stating that 43.5% of the population lived below the poverty line as of July 1, 2017. This means that nearly half of the population was able...

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Local entrepreneurs push for agricultural self-sufficiency in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria proved to many how food-insecure Puerto Rico is. The islands are severely vulnerable to natural disasters, and residents face food insecurity when shipments of food are blocked or delayed from arriving. The storm destroyed 80% of all the islands’ crops and damaged coffee plantations and dairy farms. Moreover, 85% of the islands’ food is imported, and after the disaster damaged roads and ports, many suffered from food shortages. While farming in Puerto Rico became more popular after the 2009 economic crisis, there is still much to be done on the way to agricultural self-sufficiency. Local officials have...

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COUNTing Deaths: Congress works to legislate on death tolls

The official number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has been under investigation for months. It wasn’t long after the hurricane had passed that there were whispers of a scandal. How was it possible that so few people died in such a big disaster? How could it be that the death count number was so low, when social media was full of posts of people desperately searching for loved ones lost, and possibly dead, because of the hurricane? How could it be possible that on an archipelago without power and access to clean water for so...

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The controversy over the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, in context

In order for a government to function openly and transparently, there are certain institutions that must be run without partisan interference. Puerto Rico’s government has been under fire for years over its lack of transparency and corruption. However, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) has long been applauded for its role in improving transparency on the islands. In spite of it’s prestige, the Rosselló administration has made moves to close the Institute. In early April, Puerto Rico’s Senate approved a plan for reorganizing and restructuring the Institute, along with several other government agencies. The plan is aimed at...

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