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The Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, has announced that he would wait until next week to sign into law the "Proyecto del Senado 1113", which he was to sign this present week, thus reducing the number of annual public sector holidays in Puerto Rico, by combining 4 of the current annual non-working public sector holidays of Puerto Rico into one, the "Día de los Próceres Puertorriqueños".
The reduction of the number of annual non-working public sector holidays in Puerto Rico, if indeed signed next week, will come at the end of a long and rocky series of legislative initiatives.
Five years ago (2009-06-23), Puerto Rico's Chamber of Representatives approved, and sent to the Senate, the Proyecto de la Cámara 1387 which would have sharply reduced the number of public sector holidays in Puerto Rico. That bill, introduced the previous spring (2009-04-06), would have combined into the 3rd Monday of February Presidents' Day, the 4 current public sector holidays commemorating the birth anniversaries of Eugenio María de Hostos (variable date in January), José de Diego (variable date in April), Luis Muñoz Rivera (variable date in July) and José Celso Barbosa (annually on July 27). But the lumping of these 4 commemorative dates into Presidents' Day, immediately drew ire and ridicule from some of the media, one of them remarking that of the 4 people that would be commemorated on Presidents' Day, only 1 was actually a president; José De Diego (President of the Chamber of Representatives). In any event, the Proyecto de la Cámara 1387 was never moved to final passage, and its death knell was confirmed later that same year (2009-08-10) when the public sector's human resources department of the government of Puerto Rico (ORHELA) released the "Memorando Especial Núm. 11-2009", which listed all the same public sector holidays for the year 2010.
The initiative remained stillborn until earlier this year (2014-03-19), when Puerto Rican senator, María Teresa González, submitted a proposal to sharply reduce the number of annual public sector holidays in Puerto Rico for the upcoming fiscal year 2014/2015. In her "Ley de Suspensión de los Días Feriados", out of the public sector holidays set-out in the Artículo 387 del Código Político de 1902, only January 1st, January 6, July 25, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25, would have been observed as public sector holidays in the upcoming fiscal year 2014/2015.
Two months later (2014-05-12), the Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, submitted a proposal to reduce the number of annual public sector holidays in Puerto Rico, by combining 4 of the current annual non-working public sector holidays of Puerto Rico into one, the "Día de los Próceres Puertorriqueños". In that proposal Puerto Rico would celebrate Eugenio María de Hostos, José de Diego, Luis Muñoz Rivera, José Celso Barbosa and Ramón Emeterio Betances in one public sector holiday, in a manner analogous to what had been proposed 5 years ago.
Governor Padilla's proposal was promptly supported (2014-05-22) by Puerto Rico's Office of Training and Advisory Committee on Labor Affairs and Human Resources Administration (OCALARH), and a month later (2014-06-27) the Senate of Puerto Rico passed the Proyecto del Senado 1113 which gave legislative form to Governor Padilla's proposal to reduce the number of annual public sector holidays in Puerto Rico from 19 to 15, followed, in extremis, before the July 1st deadline for inter-cameral reconciliation, by the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico (2014-07-01).
The reason for Governor Padilla's pointed statement, last week, that he would sign the bill on Tuesday of this week, at the earliest, was to clarify the fact that this Monday would remain a non-working public sector holiday ("el gobernador [...] firmará el Proyecto [...] la semana que viene, por lo que este lunes [...] será oficial"), for the last time, as Article 9 of the Proyecto del Senado 1113 clearly states that the law would take effect immediately ("Esta Ley entrará en vigor inmediatamente después de su aprobación.").
Apparently, the same reasoning was applied to the subsequent upcoming public holiday, el natalicio de José Celso Barbosa, on Sunday and Monday, July 27 and 28, 2014, so as to not affect negatively tourism ("ante la cercanía de la fecha y para no afectar a la industria turística local, García Padilla convertirá en ley el proyecto la semana entrante, y no durante estos días como había adelantado").
As always (2014-03-29, 2013-09-14, 2012-06-19, 2011-07-26, 2010-04-05, and 2009-08-10), the Puerto Rican private sector benefits from far fewer public holidays than the public sector. Banks usually follow the public sector holidays, except in cases when these fall on a Sunday.
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