Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate amended, 2nd committee reporting (09/30/1990)

Puerto Rico Status Referendum Act - Title I - Requires an island-wide referendum to be held in Puerto Rico in which voters will be presented a choice of three status options for Puerto Rico as follows: (1) statehood; (2) independence; or (3) commonwealth. Specifies a date or time period during which such referendum must occur. Provides for a runoff referendum between the two status options which received the largest number of votes if there is not a majority in favor of one of the options. Requires such referendum to include "None of the Above" as an option. Requires the Governor of Puerto Rico to certify to the President and the Congress the decision of the people which receives a majority of the votes cast, if a majority is obtained.

Requires the Attorney General to provide for adequate monitoring of the referendum by U.S. marshals.

Authorizes any aggrieved person to institute an action to challenge the choice certified by the Governor. Gives a three-judge court exclusive jurisdiction over all such claims. Provides that an appeal from a final judgment of such three-judge court will lie to the U.S. Supreme Court by way of certiorari.

Requires the certified option to go into effect on October 1, 1991, in accordance with the appropriate title (II, III, or IV) of this Act.

Directs the President to appoint a Referendum Information Officer to be responsible for the translation and distribution of information and educational materials on the referendum. Authorizes appropriations.

Title II: Statehood - Declares Puerto Rico, upon certification under title I of this Act, to be a State of the United States admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the other States effective January 1 of the 5th calendar year following such certification.

Provides that any lands and other properties that are set aside pursuant to law for the use of the United States shall remain the property of the United States. Requires each Federal agency having control over such lands or property retained by the United States to report to the President and the Congress concerning the continued need for such land or property.

Provides for the election of U.S. Senators and Representatives. States that the office of Resident Commissioner shall cease to exist upon the swearing in of the first Member of the House. Increases the permanent membership of the House of Representatives to account for the additional Representatives from Puerto Rico.

Continues in force all of the local territorial laws in force at the time of Puerto Rico's admission into the Union. States that all of the laws of the United States shall have the same force and effect within Puerto Rico as on the date immediately prior to the date of admission, with enumerated exceptions.

Directs the President to appoint a Commission on Federal laws to survey U.S. laws and to make recommendations to the Congress as to which laws should be made applicable to Puerto Rico. Requires the Commission to report to the Congress on such recommendations. Authorizes appropriations.

Provides for the continuation of civil causes of action and criminal offenses. Preserves the right of judicial review of final decisions of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico or the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico.

Reserves authority in the United States for the exercise by the Congress of the power of exclusive legislation over lands held by the United States for defense or Coast Guard purposes. States that Puerto Rico shall always have the right to serve civil or criminal process within such lands for acts committed within the State but outside such lands.

Provides that no provision of this title will operate to confer, terminate, or restore U.S. nationality.

Directs the heads of all Federal agencies to examine the application of all programs within their jurisdiction and to recommend to the President and to the Commission on Federal Laws necessary changes and additional administrative requirements to properly apply Federal laws in the new State.

Provides that effective on the date of admission of Puerto Rico, all Federal programs which provide assistance to individuals shall apply in Puerto Rico as they apply within the several States.

Sets forth procedures for distribution of certain entitlement benefits to individuals under specified Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Food Stamp, and related programs.

Provides that all Federal tax laws applicable to all other States shall be applicable to Puerto Rico on and after the date of its admission as a State of the Union.

Continues the current Federal tax laws applicable to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico until it becomes a State.

Establishes a four-year transitional period for application of Federal income tax laws to Puerto Rico after its admission as a State. Excludes foreign sales corporations (FSCs) created or organized under Puerto Rican laws from such phase-in of Federal income tax laws during the transitional period.

Imposes Federal employment, excise, estate, and gift taxes during the transitional period, in the same manner as if the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico were a State, according to a four-year phase-in schedule. Provides for a four-year phase-out of the special Puerto Rico and possession tax credit as it applies to Puerto Rico.

Provides that all income and excise taxes collected under Federal internal revenue laws prior to admission of Puerto Rico as a State shall be covered into Puerto Rico's treasury.

Prohibits the Legislature of Puerto Rico from imposing additional duties after the Statehood referendum is certified. Phases out over a specified transitional period any imposed duties in effect before such certification.

Repeals provisions of Federal law with respect to imposing tariffs or duties on articles imported into Puerto Rico.

Amends the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act to eliminate the special treatment provided to Puerto Rico with respect to duty-free treatment of Puerto Rican articles imported into the United States.

Title III: Independence - Requires the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico to provide for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention to serve until the proclamation of independence and to draft a Constitution for the Republic of Puerto Rico. Requires such Convention to draft a Constitution establishing a republican form of government which is required to guarantee the protection of fundamental human rights. Provides for the adjustment of U.S. property rights and for the ratification of the Constitution.

Requires the Governor to issue a proclamation calling for the election of such officers of the Republic of Puerto Rico as may be required by the Constitution.

Provides for a Joint Transition Commission which shall be responsible for expediting the orderly transfer of all functions currently exercised by the United States in Puerto Rico. Requires that the costs of the Transition Commission be evenly divided between the United States and Puerto Rico. Authorizes appropriations for the U.S. share of such costs. Directs U.S. agencies to provide technical assistance to the Commission on a reimbursable basis.

Directs that any action arising from the title filed in U.S. Court be stayed and referred to the Joint Transition Commission for resolution.

Directs the President, within one month of the certification of elected officers and approval of specified agreements, to: (1) withdraw and surrender all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty then existing and exercised by the United States over Puerto Rico; and (2) recognize on behalf of the United States the independence of Puerto Rico.

Vests all property, rights, and interest which the United States may have acquired over Puerto Rico, with an exception, in the Republic of Puerto Rico. Withdraws the application of all U.S. laws applicable to Puerto Rico immediately prior to independence.

Requires Puerto Rico to recognize all orders and judgments rendered by U.S. or Commonwealth courts prior to independence. Declares that upon the proclamation of independence, the judicial power of the United States shall no longer extend to Puerto Rico. Provides for pending proceedings.

Deems the Government of the Republic of Puerto Rico the successor to the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Directs the President to notify the Governments with which the United States is in diplomatic correspondence, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States that: (1) the United States has recognized the independence of Puerto Rico; and (2) all obligations and responsibilities of the U.S. Government which arise from any valid international instruments affecting Puerto Rico shall cease.

Provides that all matters pertaining to Puerto Rican citizenship shall be regulated pursuant to the Constitution and laws of the Republic. States that upon the certification of the referendum under this Act, Puerto Rico shall no longer be deemed to be a part of the United States for the purposes of acquiring U.S. citizenship by place of birth. States that no person born outside of the United States after the Proclamation of Independence shall be a U.S. citizen at birth if the parents of such person acquired U.S. citizenship solely by virtue of being born in Puerto Rico prior to the Proclamation. Authorizes certain non-U.S. citizens to enter into, lawfully engage in occupations, and establish residence as immigrants in the United States.

Requires that specific arrangements for the use of military areas by the United States in Puerto Rico be negotiated by a task force established by the Joint Transition Commission. Requires such arrangements to come into effect simultaneously with the proclamation of independence.

Continues all Federal programs in Puerto Rico until the end of the fiscal year in which independence is proclaimed. Requires that specific arrangements for the continuation or phaseout of Federal programs be negotiated by a Task Force on Economic Assistance established by the Joint Transition Commission. Requires such arrangements to come into effect simultaneously with the proclamation of independence.

Directs the Joint Transition Commission to establish a Task Force on Social Security to negotiate agreements necessary for the coordination of the U.S. social security system established by title II of the Social Security Act with a similar system to be established in the new Republic. Provides that such agreement shall: (1) protect the benefit rights of all individuals who have attained benefit eligibility under such title as of five calendar years subsequent to the certification of the referendum; and (2) provide appropriate credit for others who have contributed to such system.

Ceases all programs operated under the Social Security Act in Puerto Rico at the end of the fiscal year in which independence is proclaimed.

Requires that on December 31 of the year of such proclamation of independence issued under this Act: (1) any amounts remaining in the Unemployment Trust Fund allocable to Puerto Rico shall be transferred to the Republic of Puerto Rico; (2) the Republic of Puerto Rico shall cease to be treated as a State for purposes of Federal law relating to unemployment taxes or benefits; and (3) any person who is a U.S. citizen as described by this Act shall not be treated as an employee with regard to U.S. laws relating to unemployment taxes or benefits.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that the United States should continue to maintain an open trading relationship with the Republic of Puerto Rico after a proclamation of independence is issued. States that the President should: (1) seek favorable treatment from other countries for exports from Puerto Rico; and (2) encourage other countries to maintain open trading relationships with Puerto Rico and to designate it as a beneficiary under any preferential trade arrangements.

Directs the Joint Transition Commission to establish a Task Force on Trade to consider and develop the manner in which trade between the United States and the Republic of Puerto Rico will be governed following the Proclamation of Independence. Requires the Task Force to submit a report on its deliberations, along with its recommendations, to the President and to specified congressional committees.

Applies a specified rate of duty of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to products of the Republic of Puerto Rico entered or withdrawn from warehouse on or after the date of the proclamation of independence.

Amends the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act to include the Republic of Puerto Rico as a beneficiary country to receive duty-free treatment of its eligible articles.

Authorizes the President to enter into a trade agreement with the Republic of Puerto Rico that provides for: (1) the reduction or elimination of any duty imposed by the United States; (2) the elimination of any other barriers; and (3) the establishment of a free trade area between Puerto Rico and the United States.

Treats the Republic of Puerto Rico as a foreign country on and after the date of proclamation of independence, for purposes of Federal internal revenue laws.

Phases out the Puerto Rico and possession tax credit with respect to income or investments from activity in Puerto Rico over a four-year transition period.

Limits to certain bona fide individual residents of the Republic of Puerto Rico after its proclamation of independence the eligibility for tax exclusion of income from sources within Puerto Rico.

Phases out over a five-year period the covering of certain taxes and customs duties into the treasury of Puerto Rico.

Terminates the low-income housing credit with respect to Puerto Rico after certification of the referendum under this Act.

Continues tax-exempt status for interest on bonds issued by Puerto Rico or its local governments on or before (but not after) the last day of the fifth calendar year beginning after certification of the referendum.

Prescribes certain gift tax rules for certain property transfers by a resident of Puerto Rico before the date of proclamation of independence.

Directs the Commission to establish a Task Force on Currency and Finance to negotiate an agreement to: (1) assist Puerto Rico in the design and establishment of a deposit insurance system; (2) determine the extent of financial support to be provided for the system by U.S. insurance organizations in which Puerto Rico's financial institutions currently participate; and (3) make the necessary arrangements with respect to the use of U.S. currency by Puerto Rico if requested by Puerto Rico. Maintains until maturity the guarantees provided by the U.S. Government to investors in the secondary market for existing loans which originated in Puerto Rico.

Requires the Republic of Puerto Rico to assume the outstanding debts, liabilities, and obligations of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its municipalities and instrumentalities.

Title IV: Commonwealth - Makes this title effective October 1, 1991, should the Commonwealth be certified as having obtained a majority of the votes cast in the referendum.

States that Puerto Rico is a self-governing body politic joined in political relationship with the United States and is under U.S. sovereignty. Makes this relationship permanent unless revoked by mutual consent.

Allows the Governor of Puerto Rico to certify that the Puerto Rico legislature has adopted a resolution that states that a Federal law should no longer apply to Puerto Rico because there is no overriding national interest in having such law apply to Puerto Rico. Provides that a Federal law so certified shall no longer apply to Puerto Rico if a joint resolution approving the recommendation of the Puerto Rican Government is enacted. Sets forth procedures for consideration of such joint resolution.

Authorizes the Governor of Puerto Rico to enter into international agreements to promote the international interests of Puerto Rico as authorized by the President.

Details procedures for agencies to follow with respect to rulemaking and in carrying out their duties. Provides for judicial review of such rulemaking decisions. Excludes any rule issued relating to legislative matters within the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Finance.

Directs the officials of the Departments of State and Transportation to seek the advice of appropriate officials of Puerto Rico when negotiating any air transportation agreements which would affect air traffic to or from Puerto Rico.

Amends the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act to maintain present law with respect to Puerto Rico's special trade arrangements relating to coffee and treatment under the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

Includes Puerto Rico as an insular area for purposes of provisions for the consolidation of Federal grants to such areas. Excludes any programs established or operated under the Social Security Act from such a grant consolidation for Puerto Rico.

Requires the heads of Federal agencies to consult with the Governor of Puerto Rico as to whether there are special circumstances or qualifications which should be considered in making appointments to specified positions. Requires the President, prior to nominating any person to serve in Puerto Rico whose appointment requires the advice and consent of the Senate, to consult with the Governor as to whether such circumstances or qualifications should be considered in deciding on a nomination. Makes consultation requirements inapplicable with respect to U.S. armed forces, Coast Guard, and law enforcement agency positions.

Establishes the Office of Senate liaison for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. States that the purpose of such office shall be to facilitate the exchange of information between the Senate and the Puerto Rican Government. Authorizes appropriations for such Office.

Directs the Secretary of State to establish a Passport Office for the Caribbean in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Directs the Secretary and the Attorney General to consult with Puerto Rico's Governor to determine what administrative actions can be taken to expedite the processing of visas. Requires the Secretary and Attorney General to report to the Congress on such consultations by March 15, 1990.

Sets forth provisions with respect to antitrust laws and the development of voluntary guidelines designed to alleviate the negative impact of violence, sexually explicit material, and illegal drug use in telecast material and to promote local programming in Puerto Rico.

Directs the President to report to the Congress on eight specified Federal properties. Requires such report to include an assessment of: (1) the Federal need for each property; (2) the costs and/or benefits of disposal of each property; and (3) the comments of the Puerto Rican Government regarding each property. States that, unless the President finds that there is a national interest which requires continued Federal ownership, such properties should be transferred to Puerto Rico.

Establishes the San Juan National Historic Site Advisory Commission. Requires the Commission to regularly advise the Secretary of the Interior on the operation, management, and administration of the San Juan National Historic Site. Waives the renewal provision of the Federal Advisory Committee Act with respect to the Commission. Requires the Commission to report annually to the Secretary and specified congressional committees.

Revises the application of the Puerto Rico and possession tax credit to domestic corporations that derive a portion of gross income from the active conduct of a trade or business within a possession of the United States.

Reduces the amount of taxes and customs duties covered into the Puerto Rican treasury according to a specified schedule following certification of the referendum.

Continues current social welfare benefit programs in Puerto Rico during the first calendar year following certification for commonwealth. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, beginning on January 1 of the second calendar year after such certification, to withhold payments to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, under specified provisions of the Social Security Act, unless certain defined conditions are met. Establishes procedures for the operation of other entitlement programs after Puerto Rico becomes a Commonwealth.