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February 23, 2018

Puerto Rico

A Page from History: Hurricane Felipe in 1928

Source: Puerto Rico Report Hurricane Felipe, which made landfall in Puerto Rico in 1928, was the worst hurricane the Island had ever experienced before Hurricane Maria in 2017. While the states hit by Maria have generally rebuilt and life has largely returned to normal, Puerto Rico is still coping with the devastating damage of…

Puerto Rico’s Population after Hurricane Maria

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico has received federal disaster recovery funding in the most recent budget bill passed by Congress. In addition to rebuilding from the catastrophic damage caused by the hurricanes of 2017, Puerto Rico needs economic growth over the long term. The Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico recommended…

Nydia Velazquez Supports Small Business Legislation for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Rep. Nydia Velázquez (R-NY), ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, introduced the Small Business Access to Capital After a Natural Disaster Act. It passed in the House last month with bipartisan support. Velazquez described the bill as a “simple and straightforward” bill to “consider the unique challenges that small…

Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics Threatened

Source: Puerto Rico Report The final report of the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico expressed concerns about the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics. The report pointed out the importance of accurate data in government decision making, and listed the many ways in which Puerto Rico is simply left out of…

Stephanie Murphy Supports Florida Schools, Puerto Rico Evacuees

Source: Puerto Rico Report Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) added an initiative to the Bipartisan Budget Act signed into law last Friday which will support Florida schools as they serve the needs of newcomers from Puerto Rico. The Bipartisan Budget Act is the temporary funding bill which avoids another government shutdown. This bill gives Congress…

Federal Disaster Relief Provides Billions of Dollars for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report The federal spending law enacted on Friday provides tens of billions of dollars to Puerto Rico for recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The law also allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund construction of new government infrastructure in the territory, not limited only to facilities that were…

FOMB Rejects Governor Rossello Fiscal Plans

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board last evening wrote Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares that the five-year, revised fiscal plans that his Administration proposed January 24th for the Government of Puerto Rico as a whole and its Electric Power and Aqueduct and Sewer Authorities (PREPA and PRASA, respectively) violate…

Puerto Ricans as Immigrants and Other Misperceptions

Source: Puerto Rico Report People born in Puerto Rico are coming to the States in large numbers. Immigration is a major political issue. These two issues have nothing to do with each other, in reality, because Puerto Ricans are natural-born U.S. citizens. But immigration and Puerto Rico’s status still tend to become entangled politically.…

Confused about Medicaid and Puerto Rico?

Source: Puerto Rico Report Medicaid is the federally-funded medical assistance available in every state for any person who cannot afford to pay for their own healthcare costs. (Medicare is specifically for elderly and disabled individuals.) States can refuse Medicaid (though none currently do) and each state sets its own eligibility criteria. However, the federal…

Lawmakers Seek Answers on Puerto Rico Electric Privatization Plan

Source: Puerto Rico Report Following Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s  announcement to privatize the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. José E. Serrano (D-NY) wrote today to the Governor requesting additional details on the plan, including assurances on affordable rates and reliable service. “It…

HUBZones and Puerto Rico: A Work in Progress

Source: Puerto Rico Report In the summer of 2016, more than 82% of Puerto Rico was declared a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone): all of the municipalities of Adjuntas, Coamo, Culebra, Jayuya, Las Marías, Maricao, Salinas, Santa Isabel, Utuado and Vieques plus significant parts of all the other municipalities. The federal HUBZone program lets…

Segovia vs. U.S.: Courts Won’t Fix Broken Territorial Status

Source: Puerto Rico Report 7th Circuit Appeals Court Upholds Lower Court Denying Rights of Statehood in Territories A three-judge federal appeals court panel has issued a ruling on territorial voting rights being praised by U.S. territorial law experts. The ruling in Segovia v. U.S. clears up confusion emanating from a federal lawsuit by lawyers…

Human Rights Organizations Nationwide Request Help for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report A letter sent by 186 human rights organizations to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat of the Committee, asks the Committee to hold hearings on the education and health crisis in Puerto…

New Rasmussen Poll Finds More Americans Favor Statehood for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Rasmussen Reports, a major opinion polling organization, has reported that an increasing number of Americans approve of statehood for Puerto Rico, and more would prefer for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state than Washington, D.C. In a phone and internet survey conducted last week, Rasmussen Reports asked 1,000 American…

A Fiscal Plan for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Faced with physical and economic devastation, Puerto Rico now has a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild its infrastructure and economic foundation. To succeed, decisive leadership is required on the island and in the US Congress. A new, far-reaching plan must be set to restore economic growth. This is the opening paragraph…

Puerto Ricans to ‘Vote’ for President in 2020

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Ricans will vote for the president and vice-president of the United States beginning in 2020 under a territorial law signed Saturday. The vote will not count in deciding the winners of the elections but it could have a slight influence in determining the candidates who win Florida’s important Electoral…

Democratic Senators Encourage Senate Leaders to Provide “True Disaster Relief” for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report A group of U.S. senators led by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has written to Senate leaders requesting them to “address the deficiencies” in House-passed disaster relief legislation and “do more to promote disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.” The letter asks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY),…

Ambiguity Over Cash Calls Fiscal Plans into Question

Source: Puerto Rico Report Not knowing how much cash the Government of Puerto Rico really has available makes determining fiscals plan for it difficult, Financial Oversight and Management Board Member Jose Ramon Gonzalez said after today’s Board hearing on the Government’s cash position. He added that the information was also needed to enable the…

Medicare & Medicaid Special Enrollment Period for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) ia providing Special Enrollment Periods for people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Open Enrollment Periods for Medicare and the federal healthcare Marketplace are limited time periods when all eligible U.S. citizens can to enroll…

Puerto Rico’s Sam’s Clubs Closing

Source: Puerto Rico Report Three Puerto Rico Sam’s Clubs (Walmart-owned membership stores) suddenly closed on Thursday, and some early reports attributed the closings to the continued effects of Hurricane Maria. In fact, Walmart closed 63 Sam’s Club stores across the nation. Many workers left their shifts Wednesday and returned to work the next day…

Healthcare for New Floridians from Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has prepared a fact sheet for Florida’s new residents from Puerto Rico in response to reports of displaced individuals experiencing difficulty in obtaining health care services despite the fact that they were enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare back in Puerto Rico. The…

Disaster Relief Funding for Puerto Rico Remains Elusive

Source: Puerto Rico Report On December 18, 2017, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) detailing her requests for disaster relief for Puerto Rico. The Resident Commissioner’s requests in her December 18 letter have gone unanswered, but Congress may act before the end of…

What’s a Shadow Delegation?

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Puerto Rico Statehood Commission was presented to the U.S. Congress by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon as a step in the Tennessee Plan, which has been used by seven states in the past in their efforts to achieve statehood. This time around, another term is also being used: Shadow Delegation.…

Puerto Rico Statehood Commission Demands Seats in Congress

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Puerto Rico Statehood Commission went to Washington to put the Tennessee Plan into operation. The seven members of the Commission: Former Governor Carlos Romero Barcelo Former Governor Pedro Rosselló González Former Governor Luis Fortuño Former Senate President Charlie Rodríguez Colón Baseball Hall of Fame member Iván Rodríguez Torres GOP…

Rebuilding Puerto Rico with the Help of the Diaspora

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said in newspaper interviews that the Hurricane Maria disaster will accelerate his plans to organize the more than 5.3 million Puerto Ricans in the States to support Puerto Rico in Washington, D.C. Rossello says that the devastation brought about by the hurricanes in September will…

Corporate Tax Reform and Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Some Puerto Rico leaders are claiming unfair treatment for Puerto Rico in the new tax bill. Fully understanding the situation, however, requires us to remember the history of corporate tax deals in Puerto Rico. It all started with 936.                         …

Half of Puerto Rico Still without Power

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico’s government website on the status of Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria reports, as of this writing, that nearly 70% of Puerto Rico has electricity. Like the claim that more than 96% have safe water, this is not exactly true. That 70% figure, according to Puerto Rico Electric…

The Most Popular Stories of 2017

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico has been in the headlines a lot this year, and a lot of significant events have taken place. Nonetheless, the Puerto Rico Report’s most popular stories have explored basic information about Puerto Rico and the territory’s relationship with the U.S. Is Puerto Rico Part of the U.S.? The…

How’s the Water in Puerto Rico?

Source: Puerto Rico Report The official hurricane recovery website of the Puerto Rico government shows that 92% of the residents of the Island have running water as of this writing. FEMA’s page says that 86% have “potable water.” “Potable” means that the water is safe to drink. But Mekela Panditharatne, an attorney at the…

Population Decline in Puerto Rico Continues

Source: Puerto Rico Report In 2016, Puerto Rico had a population of 3.4 million, a number we have heard often recently in the news. “3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico…” has started off many of the reports of damage and recovery after Hurricane Maria. But a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau…

Rep. Trent Kelly Honors Puerto Rican War Hero

Source: Puerto Rico Report Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) recently spoke in honor of the memory of Army Staff Sergeant Milton Rivera-Vargas, who lost his life on December 8, 2005, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Rivera-Vargas was a member of the 1st Battalion, 296th Infantry Regiment, Puerto Rico Army National Guard, Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. A memorial website has…

González-Colón Sees Some Results in Tax Bill, Waits for More to Come

Source: Puerto Rico Report The landmark federal tax reform proposal released on Friday includes a provision to encourage economic growth in Puerto Rico and other economically distressed areas that was requested by Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón and several other members of Congress in a letter to congressional tax leaders. The tax bill omits…

Puerto Rico Not Foreign In Any Sense

Source: Puerto Rico Report By Howard Hills Ready for Transition to Uniform Taxation In all 32 territories that became states, federal and local laws unique to each territory’s historical relations with Washington had to be conformed to domestic national law applicable to states. Transition to uniformity of national law was a necessary step in…

Chairman Brady Promises Tax Help for Puerto Rico – But Later

Source: Puerto Rico Report Congressional leaders announced today a deal on a landmark federal tax reform proposal that restructures both corporate and individual income tax obligations but does not contain relief for hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. When asked about Puerto Rico’s lack of inclusion in the tax package, House of Representatives Ways & Means…

Gonzalez-Colon Leads with Bipartisan Letter Supporting Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, wrote to Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Chair and Co-chair of the Committee of Conference on H.R. 1, the new tax bill. Along with signers Jose Serrano (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Gonzalez-Colon…

Puerto Rico and the Stafford Act

Source: Puerto Rico Report In the wake of Hurricane Maria, many Americans discovered the Jones Act, making the connection between an early 20th century law and U.S. territories suffering from natural disasters. There’s another 20th century law that affects Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria: the Stafford Act. The Stafford Act,…

Bipartisan Congressional Delegation Visits Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Representatives from the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee, Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) visited Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands over the weekend. The delegation provided the members of the Committee, which is involved in disaster response for both territories, with greater insight into the…

Congressional Democrats Ask for Medical Support for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Almost 60 Democratic Member of Congress sent a letter last week to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) regarding the ongoing healthcare crisis in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The letter begins with a succinct desire to “avoid further fatalities” in the…

Puerto Rico and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Source: Puerto Rico Report The tax bill passed by the House of Representatives mentions Puerto Rico specifically in a section called “Provisions Related to Possessions of the United States.” Puerto Rico, in common with other territories of the U.S., is a possession of the United States. Rules for possessions of the United States The…

Would Puerto Rico Be Better Off as an Incorporated Territory?

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico Rep. Luis Vega Ramos, recently spoke out against making Puerto Rico an incorporated territory. According to Caribbean Business, Vega Ramos claims that Governor Ricardo Rosselló asked for this change. In fact, Rossello has asked that Puerto Rico be considered a domestic jurisdiction instead of a foreign jurisdiction under…

Sanders leads Congressional Democrats in Introducing Bill for Puerto Rico Rebuild

Source: Puerto Rico Report On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) accompanied by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warren (D-MA), and Markey (D-MA), Representatives Velazquez (D-NY), Plaskett (D-VI), and Soto (D-FL), held a news conference introducing a comprehensive plan to address the immediate humanitarian needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and ensure…

Puerto Rico’s Death Toll

Source: Puerto Rico Report Héctor M. Pesquera, secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety, has reminded residents of the Island that they can help establish the official death toll for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s death toll was settled at 51 by government reports last month, but there has been controversy…

Even More People Are Leaving Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Two months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, most of the Island remains without electricity, safe water is not available everywhere, many businesses are still closed, and many people are still homeless. Natalie Jaresko, Executive Director of the PROMESA fiscal oversight board, predicts that 170,000 people will have…

Electricity in Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report “About half of Puerto Rico is without electricity two months after the hurricane,” NPR began their interview with Governor Ricardo Rossello. The governor says their hope is to get power to everyone by Christmas, but that full restoration of electricity could take much longer. Who has electricity now? As of…

Post-Hurricane Disease Concerns in Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Centers for Disease Control list a number of diseases to watch out for after a hurricane: Leptospirosis Leptospirosis is an unfamiliar word to most of us; some people have gotten it confused with leprosy, but it is not a communicable disease. Leptospirosis is a disease which comes from contact…