An intense and long day is expected today in the Capitol due to the imminent discussion of House Bill 938, which disrupts fringe benefits of workers in public agencies and corporations.
While the representatives discuss the contentious measure in the chamber, outside the House of Laws workers are expected to appear and protest against the bill that seeks to create the Law on Compliance with the Fiscal Plan.”
According to legislative sources, both the House and the Senate could tend to the measure today, which would be amended to address the cut proposed on health insurance. The rest of the project, said yesterday House president Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, would remain unchanged.
One of the alternatives being considered by the House, in coordination with the Senate and the Executive, it to equate the contributions made by employees in agencies and corporations with an amount that could fluctuate around $200.
Through this averaging, employees in agencies, close to 101,000 of them, could see an increase in their contribution. Whereas, for employees in public corporations, another 26,000, this would be equal to a reduction in that same item. “The intent is to give every public employee the same opportunity,” said Méndez.
Although, early yesterday, Méndez assured that the measure had the necessary votes to pass, he acknowledged that the health insurance plan was the main sticking point. “This is the reason why we are still working on some amendments we are going to address,” he said.
They also contemplate the possibility of including language that allows for a gradual reversal of the contribution to the health plan, as the Government gains back its fiscal footing. The rest of the Bill as presented by the administration of Ricardo Rosselló would remain unaltered, according to plans as late as yesterday.
Méndez didn’t say what those alternatives to be considered would be, to maintain the collections unaltered despite the amendments, but said several suggestions had been outlined such as that all public employees under Mi salud and, therefore, all contributions from corporations and agencies be directed to the Government’s plan.
After 5:30 p.m., the new progressive (party) delegation met again and agreed that the decision will come from a vote in the caucus. At that hour, however, it was still an issue how to address the amendments to the new health insurance plan.
The idea last night was to maintain talks between the House and the Senate to come up with joint agreements and submit them in todays House session, slated for 11:00 a.m. The Senate called its session for 1:00 p.m.
“The delegation knows it has to make a decision on that. We had a long discussion and heard everyone. We listened to the objections from our comrades and practically all conclude that, the only thing that needs an alternative is the contribution to the health plan, and we understand that,” Méndez pointed earlier.
A call is made. Informed that House Project 938 could be addressed today in both legislative chambers, unions representing civil servants called their on their members to march to the Capitol to protest against the measure.
This is the case of the Authentic Independent Union (UIA, by its Spanish acronym), which groups together employees from the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, and the Insular Union of Industrial and Construction Electrical Workers (Uitice, by its Spanish acronym), which groups together workers at the Electric Power Authority, who have called on all its members, active and retired, to a protest tomorrow, starting at 8:00 a.m.
This demand joins that of several other unions and citizens’ organizations for a mass event next Monday, to celebrate May 1, International Workers’ Day, and in protest against the Oversight Board, and the austerity measures.
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