Photo via Rick Scott/Facebook
Gov. Rick Scott thinks the U.S. should “respect the will of the people of Puerto Rico” and make the island the nation's 51st state, according to the Associated Press.
It's a decision that would be left up to Congress, in that Congress would have to approve any changes in Puerto Rico's political status. But it's an issue that's been pressed time and time again, having been voted on on five times since the U.S. acquired the territory from Spain following the Spanish-American War in 1898, although without much success.
Most recently, about a half-million Puerto Ricans voted in June 2017 on the question of whether the territory should be ushered into statehood, and about 97 percent cast their ballot in favor. Only 23 percent of the population turned out for the vote, however, on an island where voter participation hovers around 80 percent. The vote also came at the same time that Puerto Rico had recently declared a form of bankruptcy in the face of a reported $74 billion in debt and $49 billion in pension obligations it couldn't pay.
That was enough for opposition parties – who prefer independence or remaining a territory – to consider the statehood vote rigged.
Then Hurricane Maria happened in September 2017, forcing an estimated 115,000 to 200,000 to leave the island due to the island’s devastation – about 56,000 of whom have now settled in Florida.
So does Scott support making Puerto Rico the nation's 51st state? Or, arguably more likely, does Scott support Puerto Rican evacuees voting for him as he challenges Sen. Bill Nelson for a seat in the U.S. Senate in November?
Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.