Executive Order No. 10 (2018) -

Executive Order No. 10 (2018)

Establishes the Commission on Puerto Rico Relief

Issued: February 12, 2018.

Effective: February 12, 2018.

WHEREAS, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, causing an estimated $ 100 billion in damage and leaving nearly 3.5 million American citizens without basic necessities; and

WHEREAS, thousands of Puerto Ricans evacuated the island due to the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Maria and approximately 30,000 evacuees have relocated to New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, substantial recovery efforts are underway, but much of the island remains without power, safe drinking water, and basic medical supplies many months after the disaster; and

WHEREAS, members of New Jersey's State Legislature and then Governor-elect Murphy, along with representatives of the business community and faith-based leadership, visited Puerto Rico on December 15, 2017, to assist with the recovery efforts; and

WHEREAS, Governor Ricardo Rossello welcomed the New Jersey delegation at that time and emphasized the need for continued collaboration and assistance for those recovering in Puerto Rico and evacuees who relocated to New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey is home to approximately 600,000 Puerto Ricans, which represents the third largest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the United States; and

WHEREAS, Puerto Ricans account for approximately six percent of the total population of New Jersey and one in every four Latinos and Latinas in the State is Puerto Rican;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1. There is hereby established the Commission on Puerto Rico Relief (the "Commission"), which shall be empowered to examine, determine, and advise the Governor and his staff on New Jersey's efforts to assist Puerto Ricans on the island and in New Jersey. The mission of this Commission shall be to assist in coordinating New Jersey's response efforts to the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Maria.

2. The Commission shall be comprised of no greater than sixteen (16) individuals to be selected by and to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. These members shall be appointed based on their experience and expertise in matters concerning Puerto Rico affairs. Furthermore, two additional members shall be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Governor of Puerto Rico.

3. The Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Commission shall be selected by the Governor from among the membership of the Commission. Vacancies on the Commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

4. The Commission shall meet at such times and in such locations as necessary to discharge its responsibilities under this Order; provided, however, that the Commission shall meet at least once in the northern, southern, and central regions of the State.

5. The Commission is authorized to call upon any department, office, division or agency of this State to supply it with data and any other information, personnel or other assistance available to such agency as the Commission determines to be necessary to discharge its duties under this Order. Each department, office, division or agency of this State is hereby required, to the extent not inconsistent with law and consistent with budget constraints, to cooperate fully with the Commission and to furnish the Commission with such assistance on as timely a basis as is necessary to accomplish the purposes of this Order. The Commission may consult with experts or other knowledgeable individuals in the public or private sector on any aspect of its mission.

6. The Commission shall meet with and solicit input from relevant New Jersey state agencies, including but not limited to the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Children & Family Services, the Department of Health, and the Department of Labor, to ascertain the services being provided and the number of individuals impacted by such services. Moreover, the Commission shall collaborate with federal agencies, including but not limited to the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA"), the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as collaborating with nongovernmental and nonprofit agencies as appropriate.

7. In consultation with the aforementioned entities, the Commission shall:

a. Identify points of necessary cooperation between federal and State agencies that will allow for expedited services in the United States; and

b. Examine the moratorium on mortgage and reverse mortgage foreclosures in Puerto Rico that is set to expire on March 19, 2018; and

c. Determine capabilities of New Jersey utility companies to assist with power generation on the island; and

d. Examine existing and future availability of New Jersey colleges and universities to host and provide resources to students and faculty who have evacuated from or remain unable to complete coursework in Puerto Rico; and

e. Identify volunteer tourism opportunities pursuant to which New Jerseyans are encouraged to visit Puerto Rico and assist nonprofit recovery organizations and examine whether federal and/or State tax credits and/or deductions should be issued for services rendered; and

f. Identify and recruit legal volunteers to appeal from potentially erroneous denials of FEMA benefits.

8. The Commission shall prepare and publicly release a report regarding its findings within ninety (90) days following the appointment of the members of the Commission, as provided in this Order.

9. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to supersede any federal, State, or local law.

10. This Order shall take effect immediately.

(Published March 1, 2010 in the New Jersey Register at 42 N.J.R. 619(a). Published February 12, 2018 in the New Jersey Register at 50 N.J.R. 1013(a).)

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