The Senate today, Tuesday, rejected a bill that seeks to create a Minimum Wage Act for private sector social work professionals in Puerto Rico.
Senate Bill 666 received 10 votes in favor, six against, and eight senators abstained.
“This measure responds to an old demand of social workers to be compensated with a decent wage. However, the army of community social workers who have for years highlighted the misery they are paid has been abandoned.”Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) spokeswoman expressed change on the measure, Mary of Lourdes Santiago.
The lawmaker said that although he would vote in favor of the measure, it was not fair to the thousands of social workers who work in the public sector, such as the Ministry of the Family and the Ministry of Education, among other government agencies.
The bill establishes pay scales for private sector social workers that start at $11.53 per hour ($2,000 per month) for social workers with a bachelor’s degree, no experience, or less than three years of experience; $14.42 per hour ($2,500 per month) for a social worker with a bachelor’s degree and three years of experience; $17.30 per hour ($3,000 per month) for social workers with a master’s degree with less than three years of experience and $20 per hour ($3,500 per month) for social workers with a master’s degree and three years of experience.
The report that accompanies the legislation claims that the measure aims to improve working conditions in this sector, “helping in turn to reduce the emigration of these professionals and the abandonment of this profession for occupations that involve less responsibility and risk’.
“It is important to note that social work professionals deserve to be compensated commensurate with their demanding academic training, experience and work,” said the statement of reasons for the measure, filed by popular senator Ruben Soto Rivera.
The Senate, sitting this afternoon on a busy calendar of more than twenty measures, Nor did it give way to a bill that would amend Puerto Rico’s Civil Code to add hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as a lab test requirement for marriage licenses.
The measure received 13 votes in favor and 11 against. The measure needed at least 14 votes to pass.
The Independent and Health Senator, Jose Vargas Vidot, requested that the analysis of the measure be postponed, but his request was not granted. “The project is commendable and important, but we need more information,” Vargas Vido said.
He said the FDA has not approved certification for the HPV test “because it doesn’t exist and the only alternative is an anal swab, an invasive test.”
With 16 votes in favor, six against, and two abstentions, Senate Bill 731, which amends Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Act 54, was approved to provide that the crime of intimate partner sexual assault does not prescribed when the victim is under 18 years of age. completed years and the accused was 18 years old at the time of the crime.
The Legal Aid Society (SAL) opposed the measure, according to a report on the bill authored by popular senator Mariali Gonzalez Huertas.
“SAL urges the Legislature, before enacting laws on this matter, to identify empirical studies, if any, that demonstrate the incidence of underreporting of sex crimes against minors when they are already adults. At the same time, it would be useful to know at what age victims of spousal sexual assault are ready to report these acts”, the organization believes.
Likewise, a unanimous vote (24 votes) gave way to Senate Bill 635, which would designate March 15 of each year as a Day of Remembrance for the Victims of COVID-19. New progressive Sen. Wanda Soto Tolentino’s legislation seeks to remember the pandemic’s fatal victims and raise public awareness of the importance of disease prevention.
The Senate adjourned until Monday, September 12.