Puerto Rico Lawmakers Likely to Consider Bill in Special Session

  • Legislative session is scheduled to end Tuesday in San Juan
  • Governor can request special session to work on bills

Puerto Rico lawmakers will likely consider a bill to aid in the restructuring of the island’s main electric utility in a special legislative session, the chairman of the commonwealth’s Senate finance committee said during a radio interview.

Tuesday is the final day of the current legislative meeting. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who is seeking support for the bill as part of an agreement with some bondholders to restructure the agency’s $8.2 billion in debt, can call lawmakers back if they fail to approve the measure. Senator Jose Nadal Power, chair of the finance committee, made the comments in an interview on WKAQ radio in San Juan.

As part of a partial agreement reached by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority with bondholders this month, the bill must be approved by Nov. 20 for the pact to restructure the debt to be finalized. The deadline was extended last week by the bondholders to give the utility more time to negotiate with bond insurers who have objected to terms of the agreement, which would leave some investors with losses of as much as 15 percent.

Lawmakers are also considering a bill to establish a local fiscal adjustment board that is a key part of a government plan to restructure the commonwealth’s $70 billion debt burden.

Who holds sway over the island’s financial decisions has been a point of contention among Puerto Rico officials, bondholders and federal lawmakers. The Obama administration has advocated a federal control board as part of a proposal to give the island access to bankruptcy. Congressional leaders, including Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says he’s receptive to the administration’s proposal to establish a federal control board.

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