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Author: William-Jose Velez

White House Plebiscite Proposal may come back in 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill

A few months ago we proclaimed the White House’s proposal for a new Puerto Rico status plebiscite dead given the budget battles in Congress. At the time all signs pointed to Congress ignoring the budget line item approved in the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. Now, we are seeing evidence that it might not be so dead after all. Several weeks ago Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR) said it was still possible for Congress to address the issue. Now we’re seeing a piece by David Rogers on Politico saying that following the grand budget agreement already signed into law, lawmakers in DC are working on the details of an omnibus spending bill, the likes of which has not been seeing at the Capitol since the debt ceiling fight of 2011. Rogers says: “At center stage are the House and Senate Appropriations committees, whose staffs have been working through the holidays to try to pull together a draft package — really 12 bills in one. About half these — covering the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs and major science agencies — have been largely finalized. And right up to New Year’s Eve, there were conference calls with lawmakers Tuesday and reports of continued progress on the major spending issues.” And that’s exactly what you need to be watching. You may recall that it is...

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Fortuño on Fusion: Time will bring statehood #Video

Former Governor of Puerto Rico Luis Fortuño was on America with Jorge Ramos on the new Fusion cable channel, speaking about Puerto Rico and statehood. During the interview, which you can watch below, Ramos tried (for the nth time) to find issue with a nation wanting to form part of the US (ignoring not only the cultural and demographic realities of the country, but the premise of the network of the show he hosts), and on Puerto Ricans not residing in the territory not being able to vote on the future of the status issue. On that last issue Fortuño had a stellar answer: “Should I be able to vote in Florida because there are a million Puerto Ricans?” Ramos didn’t have a comeback. Get a better...

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Garcia Padilla pushes last minute Teacher’s retirement bill

After insisting that his administration did not have a bill ready to submit to the legislature to reform the grossly unfunded public teacher’s retirement system, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has announced he will call for the legislature to convene in an extraordinary session to consider a bill reforming the system. After initially announcing a press conference, Fortaleza instead sent out a press release after negotiations with teacher unions seemed at a standstill. The bill, as of yet unreleased, will contain the following as indicated by Fortaleza: Substituting the actual accumulated defined benefits plan for a plan of prospective definition contribution. Increasing the minimum pension of retired teachers from $400 monthly to $500 monthly. Establishing a minimum guaranteed pension of $1,562 monthly for teachers that have yet to retire, which increases by $1,162 the minimally guaranteed pension, and by $187 the actual monthly pension. A guaranteed health insurance plan including medicines for teachers with family income below $25,000, starting in January 2015. Pensions for merit, and the so called ‘Cadillac pensions’ will be eliminated, as requested by the teachers. The retirement age will be set at 55 years, and the amount of years of service set at 30. The teachers’ contribution towards their retirement plan will increase by 1%, and will not be revised until 2017. The current special laws that benefit current retirees will be modified, guaranteeing a Christmas...

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US Senators say the US will never accept the ‘enhanced commonwealth’

We warned you. On Friday, reports came out of a letter sent to leaders in Puerto Rico from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), in which they expressed their thoughts following the hearing of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for which they serve as chairman and as ranking minority member respectively, on Puerto Rico’s status, held in August. In the letter, both Senators indicate that from the testimony of Puerto Rico’s political leaders, it became clear to them that Puerto Ricans had in effect rejected the current status through the vote last November. It mentioned that as of now,the Congress has yet to decide on whether to fund the White House’s proposal for a new plebiscite to be conducted with supervision from the US Department of Justice, a proposal that seemed dead a couple months ago, but that given the recent budget deal between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), could make a comeback in next year’s budget authorization. For next year, there is also the possibility that the local legislature may enact a law for a constitutional status convention, whose scope, process and effect are yet to be determined. Wyden and Murkowski then stressed that whatever method is used going forward, the “non-viable” ‘enhanced commonwealth’ status option not be considered, for it “confuses the debate and undermines the effort”...

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How to tell if you lack any influence in Congress

In 3 easy steps: 1. Be Alejandro Garcia Padilla.   2. Write a letter to Congress asking them to not support HR 2000, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi‘s bill to admit Puerto Rico as a state,  and to withdraw as cosponsors. From the Puerto Rico Report:   3. Receive word three weeks later that not only did not a single congressman withdraw as a cosponsor, but instead the bill added one more. From GovTrack.us: [quote_box author=”Govtrack.us” profession=””] Dec 04, 2013 — New Cosponsor H.R. 2000: Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act New Cosponsor: Rep. Matthew Cartwright [D-PA17] [/quote_box]   What else could you...

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