November 9, 2009
A foggy political picture
With all the talk about government layoffs, rising crime and now - the break-up of Luis Fonsi and Adamari López - grabbing all the headlines of our fearless media, no one has brought to light the fact that the current legislative session ends on Thursday and most of Gov. Fortuño's economic packages have yet to go to a floor vote, not to mention the new Permits Law, the new Tourism Incentives Law and the ever-controversial Closing Law.
The backlog of key economic legislation is not just due to the Legislature's foot-dragging. A key element to the delay lies on the fact that Gov. Fortuño's leadership is badly eroded after only 10 months and both the House and Senate are basically operating like rudderless ships.
A great example of this is the Permits Law. Caribbean Business quoted House Socioeconomic Committee chairman José Chico this week saying that the bill is "about ready" to go to a floor vote, but the fact that the legislation neither has the votes from the New Progressive Party majority nor the support from industry leaders, who have time and time again filed through the House saying that the legislation is flawed.
While the Senate agenda has been a little more upbeat about moving administration bills through, they have been heavily amended - some of them ladened with poison pills - that even if they go to floor votes, it is unlikely that they will come out of Conference.
Adding more confusion to the already convoluted mix is the fact that, politically speaking, Gov. Fortuño does not have a hold on his Legislative conference - a fact that has already opened the door to massive speculation that he will be a one-term governor and should expect a challenge from within his own party once candidacy season opens midway through 2010.
In baseball terms, there's already movement in the bullpen and that has been validated by an already-busy fundraising season and an unprecedented amount of exploratory balloons being floated from many different sources.
It is going to be a very interesting week indeed in the Puerto Rico's politics. Stay tuned ...