Florida House Memorial 147, also known as H0147, “urges Congress to apply law & policy in Puerto Rico without discrimination or inequality & to incorporate Commonwealth of Puerto Rico into United States.” Filed in September, the bill has been through several committees and was unanimously approved last week by the Government Accountability Committee of the Florida House.
Rep. Robert Cortes presented the bill and called for equality for the people of Puerto Rico. He referred to the Territorial Clause, pointing out that this part of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress complete power over Puerto Rico.
“They can’t vote for their president,” Cortes reminded his listeners. “One day Congress could go and decide to separate Puerto Rico from the United States, and the citizens there could lose their U.S. citizenship.”
Cortes pointed out that Puerto Rico was not treated equally with Florida and Texas during the recent hurricane season. He mentioned the large numbers moving from Puerto Rico to Florida as the lack of water and electricity continues. He said that Congress should make sure that “those that are coming here don’t have to leave the Island to get what they get when they come here.” If Puerto Rico had equal treatment from Congress, people would not have to move from Puerto Rico to Florida in order to get passable roads, healthcare, reliable electric power, and a say in decisions made about their lives.
Cortes stopped short of asking for statehood for Puerto Rico. “We are asking Congress to create policies and procedures to incorporate the territory… and provide equal rights and protection,” he said. He asked that Puerto Rico, which is an unincorporated territory, be incorporated. People living in incorporated territories, he mentioned, pay taxes and know that they are moving toward statehood. He said that all previous territories had this arrangement, and asked that Puerto Rico be given the same.