Senate of Puerto Rico
|Senate of Puerto Rico|
|25th Senate of Puerto Rico|
|Type||Upper house of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico|
|Founded||August 13, 1917|
|Vice President||José Luis Dalmau|
|Majority Leader||Aníbal José Torres|
|Majority Whip||Rossana López León|
|Minority Leaders||Larry Seilhamer
María de Lourdes Santiago
|Minority Whip||Carmelo Ríos|
|Last election||2012 general election|
|Capitol of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
The Senate of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Senado de Puerto Rico) is the upper house of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, the territorial legislature of Puerto Rico. The Senate, together with the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, control the legislative branch of the government of Puerto Rico.
The structure and responsibilities of the Senate are defined in Article III of the Constitution of Puerto Rico which vests all legislative power in the Legislative Assembly. Every bill must be passed by both, the Senate and the House, and signed by the Governor of Puerto Rico in order to become law.
The Senate has exclusive power to try and to decide impeachments. The constitution also establishes that all secretaries appointed by the governor to the different executive departments, as well as all judges and the Comptroller, require the advice and consent of the Senate. Justices of the Supreme Court can not assume office until after confirmation by the Senate.
The Senate is normally composed by twenty seven senators: sixteen that represent the constituent senatorial districts across the commonwealth, with two senators per district, and an additional eleven which are elected at-large.[a]
The Senate has been meeting since 1917, after the enactment of the Jones–Shafroth Act established the body formally. The current session is the 25th Senate of Puerto Rico which has a simple majority from the Popular Democratic Party; giving the party control over the Senate without political opposition except for constitutional amendments.[b]
The Senate, along with its members and staff, are housed in the eastern half of the Capitol of Puerto Rico, namely the Rafael Martínez Nadal Senate Annex Building, the Luis Muñoz Marín Office Building, the Antonio R. Barceló Building, the Luis A. Ferré Building, the Ramón Mellado Parsons Office Building and the Baltasar Corrada del Rio Office Building.
- 1 History
- 2 Functions
- 3 Procedure
- 4 Membership
- 5 Majority and minority parties
- 6 Officers
- 7 Current composition
- 8 Other organizations
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
The Senate of Puerto Rico was established in 1917, after the signing of the Jones Act. Signed in March 2, 1917, the act made Puerto Ricans into U.S. citizens and empowered them to have a popularly-elected Senate. This came to amend and improve the Foraker Act, signed in 1900, which granted limited administrative and executive powers to Puerto Ricans.
From 1900 to 1917, Puerto Ricans made several attempts to convince the United States into amending the Foraker Act, so they could elect their own Senate. In February 1914, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, Luis Muñoz Rivera presented legislation in Congress insisting in the creation of a Puerto Rican Senate with more powers. Finally, in January 1916, Representative William Jones presented the Jones Act for Puerto Rico and other territories. It was signed by Woodrow Wilson on March 2, 1917.
In August 13, 1917, the first Senate of Puerto Rico was sworn in. Antonio R. Barceló was chosen as its first President, with Eduardo Georgetti as his Pro tempore. Also, José Muñoz Rivera and Manuel Palacios Salazar were selected as Secretary and Sergeant at Arms respectively. In this first instance, the Senate was composed of 19 members, 14 of which were chosen from each of the seven senatorial districts, and five elected at-large.
The Senate has exclusive power to try and to decide impeachment cases, and in meeting for such purposes, the Senators act in the name of the people of Puerto Rico. The Constitution also establishes that all Secretaries appointed by the Governor to the different executive departments, as well as all judges, require the advice and consent of the Senate. Justices of the Supreme Court can not assume office until after confirmation by the Senate.
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- is capable of reading and writing in either Spanish or English;
- is a citizen of the United States;
- is a citizen of Puerto Rico;
- has resided in Puerto Rico for at least two years immediately prior to the date of his election or appointment; and,
- is over thirty years of age.
To elect the members of the Senate, Puerto Rico is divided into eight senatorial districts:
For each one of these districts, the people of Puerto Rico elect two senators. In addition, the people are allowed to vote for one senator at-large of their preference. The eleven at-large Senate candidates with the majority of votes integrate the rest of the Senate.
Senators serve terms of four years each. A member who has been elected, but not yet seated, is called a "senator-elect"; a member who has been appointed to a seat, but not yet seated, is called a "senator-designate". The Puerto Rico Constitution does not provide for term limits and, in fact, one current senator is completing his ninth four-year term as a senator and his tenth as a legislator.
Salary and benefits
The annual salary for full-time work of each senator is $73,775 USD annually, except for the President of the Senate which receives $110,663, and the President pro tempore, the Majority and Minority Leaders, the Majority and Minority Whips, and the presidents of the Commission on Government and the Commission on Treasury which receive $84,841 each.
Senators are allowed to generate additional income from outside their legislative employment subject to restrictions, and only the senators which do not receive an annual salary are entitled to additional benefits such as per diem or car allowance. Costs associated to traveling outside of Puerto Rico is reimbursed. Cost-of-living adjustments have been frozen since 2005. All senators qualify for the same retirement and health benefits as of all other employees of the government of Puerto Rico.
In addition, all senators are provided with office space, secretarial services, advisors, support personnel, office supplies, and stationery. Hiring of personnel working directly for each senator is at the discretion of each senator. Rather than providing these resources and services directly, senators are instead assigned a budget from which they retrieve funds to pay for these. Senators that preside commissions are assigned larger budgets than those who don't; creating a difference between the budgets assigned to senators from the party holding a majority in the Senate versus the ones in minority as majority senators tend to be the ones that preside commissions.
Majority and minority parties
The "Majority party" is the political party that has a majority of seats. The next-largest party is known as the minority party. The president pro tempore, committee chairs, and some other officials are generally from the majority party.
Whenever the elected members of the minority constitute less than nine members, the Constitution provides for the certification of additional "add-on" minority Senators, who will serve in an at-large capacity. Such was the case after the 2004 elections, when four defeated Popular Democratic Party (PPD) Senate candidates, one at-large, and three district candidates, were added on as at-large Senators, joining the five PPD Senators who had achieved election in their own right. This constitutional guarantee of a minimum legislative minority representation is unique to Puerto Rico among all legislatures under the American flag, incorporating an element of proportionality usually found only in proportional representation bodies.
The Senate is served by several officers with and without voting powers, which are elected from within and outside its ranks. Of these, only the President was established by the Constitution; all other officers were established by internal rules adopted by the Senate. Only the President and President pro tempore have voting powers as all are elected from within. Non-voting officers are elected from outside Senate ranks and simply assist in internal procedures and clerical tasks, and in the observance of internal rules, laws, and the Constitution. Typical non-voting officers include the Secretary, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and other officers appointed by the different commissions as part of their own internal affairs.
President of the Senate
The President is the highest-ranking officer and the presiding officer of the Senate. The post was created by Article III of the Constitution of Puerto Rico which establishes that, "The Senate shall elect a President [...] from among [its] members." The President is substituted by the President pro tempore in his absence. Its counterpart in the House is the Speaker.
- 1917–1929: Antonio R. Barceló
- 1929–1933: Luis Sánchez Morales
- 1933–1941: Rafael Martínez Nadal
- 1941–1949: Luis Muñoz Marín
- 1949–1969: Samuel R. Quiñones
- 1969–1973: Rafael Hernández Colón
- 1973–1977: Juan J. Cancel Ríos
- 1977–1981: Luis A. Ferré
- 1981–1993: Miguel Hernández Agosto
- 1993–1997: Roberto Rexach Benítez
- 1997–2001: Charlie Rodríguez
- 2001–2005: Antonio Fas Alzamora
- 2005–2009: Kenneth McClintock
- 2009–2013: Thomas Rivera Schatz
- 2013–present: Eduardo Bhatia
President pro tempore
- 1917–1921: Eduardo Georgetti
- 1921–1924: Juan Hernández López
- 1926–1929: Luis Sánchez Morales
- 1929–1933: Celestino Iriarte Miró
- 1933–1940: Bolívar Pagán
- 1940–1941: Luis Padrón Rivera
- 1941–1944: Francisco M. Susoni Abreu
- 1945–1949: Samuel R. Quiñones
- 1949–1969: Luis Negrón López
- 1969–1973: Juan Cancel Ríos
- 1973–1977: Miguel Hernández Agosto
- 1977–1981: Manuel Ramos Barroso
- 1981–1988: Sergio Peña Clos
- 1989–1993: Miguel Deynes Soto
- 1993–1995: Nicolás Nogueras Cartagena
- 1995–1997: Luisa Lebrón de Rivera
- 1997–2000: Aníbal Marrero Pérez
- 2000–2001: Luz Arce Ferrer
- 2001–2005: Velda González de Modestti
- 2005–2009: Orlando Parga Figueroa
- 2009–2013: Margarita Nolasco Santiago
- 2013–present: José Luis Dalmau
Each party elects floor leaders denominated "Majority leader" or "Minority leader", accordingly, as well as a "Majority Whip" or a "Minority Whip". Floor leaders act as the party chief spokespeople. The current leaders are Majority Leader Aníbal José Torres, Majority Whip Rossana López León; Minority Leader Larry Seilhamer Rodríguez and Minority Whip Carmelo Ríos; and Minority Leader Maria de Lourdes Santiago.
The Senate is served by several officials who are not members.
The Senate's chief administrative officer is the Secretary of the Senate, who maintains public records, disburses salaries, monitors the acquisition of stationery and supplies, and oversees clerks.
Another official is the Sergeant-at-Arms who, as the Senate's chief law enforcement officer, maintains order and security on the Senate premises.
This officers are elected by the Senate, usually during its inaugural session, immediately after the election of the body's. The current Secretary is Manuel A. Torres while the current Sergeant-at-Arms is William Sánchez Tosado. Torres is the only Sergeant-at-Arms in history to have served under two Senate Presidents.
The current session is the 25th Senate of Puerto Rico, the upper house of the 17th Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, which will meet from January 14, 2013, to January 1, 2017. All members were elected in the general elections of 2012 with a simple majority coming from the Popular Democratic Party. The other major party, the New Progressive Party, as well as the Puerto Rican Independence Party are represented as well.
- District I San Juan: José Nadal Power
- District I San Juan: Ramón Luis Nieves
- District II Bayamón: Carmelo Ríos
- District II Bayamón: Migdalia Padilla
- District III Arecibo: Ángel Martínez Santiago
- District III Arecibo: José Joito Pérez
- District IV Mayagüez–Aguadilla: Gilberto Rodríguez
- District IV Mayagüez–Aguadilla: María Teresa González
- District V Ponce: Martín Vargas Morales
- District V Ponce: Ramón Ruiz
- District VI Guayama: Ángel M. Rodríguez Otero
- District VI Guayama: Miguel A. Pereira
- District VII Humacao: Jorge Suárez
- District VII Humacao: José Luis Dalmau
- District VIII Carolina: Luis Daniel Rivera
- District VIII Carolina: Pedro A. Rodríguez
- At-large: Angel Rosa
- At-large: Aníbal José Torres
- At-large: Antonio Fas Alzamora
- At-large: Cirilo Tirado
- At-large: Eduardo Bhatia
- At-large: Itzamar Peña
- At-large: Larry Seilhamer Rodríguez
- At-large: Margarita Nolasco
- At-large: Maria de Lourdes Santiago
- At-large: Rossana López León
- At-large: Thomas Rivera Schatz
The Office of Legislative Services was headed in early 2009 by Kevin Rivera, while Eliezer Velázquez currently serves as Superintendent of the Capitol, the first to serve during two four-year terms.
The Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly also receives support services from the Council of State Governments (CSG), CSG's Eastern Regional Conference, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL).
- The Puerto Rican Senate official site (Spanish)
- The Puerto Rican Senate official site (English)
- The Office of Legislative Services / Oficina de Servicios Legislativos (Spanish)
- The Office of Legislative Services / Oficina de Servicios Legislativos (English)
- The Senate can increase its number of senators when in a general election more than two-thirds of the members of the Senate are elected from one political party or from a single ticket.
- The party does not have absolute control over constitutional amendments as these are proposed through concurrent resolutions that must be approved by not less than two thirds of both the Senate and the House. Currently the party does not control two thirds of the House and therefore can not propose constitutional amendments without opposition.
- Article III, Section 1, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Article III, Section 19, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Article III, Section 21, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Article IV, Section 5, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Article III, Section 22, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Article V, Section 8, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Article III, Section 7,, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 6, 2013.
- Pub.L. 64–368
- Article VII, Section 1, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- "Elecciones Generales 2012 y Consulta Sobre el Estatus Político de Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Historia del Senado de Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). Senate of Puerto Rico. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Article III, Section 5, Constitution of Puerto Rico (July 25, 1952). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Act No. 24 of 2029 (in Spanish). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- Secretaría del Senado de Puerto Rico on SenadoPR