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The Bill on Amendments to the Political Parties Act and the Advertising Act (497 SE), initiated by the Member of the Riigikogu Valdo Randpere, would set tighter restrictions on election advertising, and the aim of the amendments is to preclude the use of public money in political advertising. The Bill specifies the prohibition which is already set out in the Political Parties Act which does not allow the use of public funds for carrying out an election campaign. As a new specification, it is specified that public funds are also, for example, funds of local government and state authorities, companies and foundations, and all other legal persons, that is, all proprietary funds which are not the funds of the person participating in the elections. Thus, political parties and candidates will have to pay for their election advertising themselves in any case. According to the Bill, the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee will have to prepare a guide for conducting an election campaign or for clarification and specification of the use of public funds used in a campaign. The Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee will assess the possible use of public funds in election advertising.

The Bill also provides for an amendment of the Advertising Act which will prohibit advertising with political content which is not financed from the assets of the person who gains an advantage from the political advertising. At the same time, the person publicising advertising will have to turn to the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee for a pre-assessment if any doubt arises with regard to such advertising. A person who publicises prohibited advertising can be punished by a fine. 

“The aim of the Act is to hinder the use of public funds in the conduction of advertising campaigns, and to create a situation where advertising campaigns are conducted only on account of own funds,” Randpere said. “Since the use of public funds for election campaigns has been a widespread and also repeated phenomenon to which self-regulation has not extended, I find that an intervention by the legislature is necessary.” 

20 questions were asked of Randpere at the sitting. Motions to amend the Bill can be submitted until 27 May. 

Two other Bills passed the first reading:  

The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Election Act and Other Acts (617 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, specifies the procedure for conducting the voting in the elections of the Riigikogu, local government councils and the European Parliament, and in referendums. The Bill provides for a facilitation of the voting in hospitals and 24-hour social welfare institutions, and for the termination of the sending of paper polling cards to voters staying in foreign countries. The Bill also amends and specifies the regulation concerning the mandatory data submitted by persons who stand as candidates, and extends the time for reviewing election complaints submitted to county electoral committees and the National Electoral Committee from three working days to five working days. 

The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act (651 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, harmonises the practice of Riigikogu committees regarding the content of the minutes of committee sittings, and defines the status of the recordings of committee sittings. According to the Bill, the minutes of a committee sitting should reflect in summary form the course of the committee sitting and the development of the decisions and positions adopted. The Bill also provides that the Constitutional Committee will be renamed the Constitutional and Human Rights Committee. 

One Bill passed the first reading: 

With the Bill on Amendments to § 6 of the Estonian Flag Act (597 SE), initiated by the National Defence Committee, the Veterans Day celebrated on 23 April will be designated a flag day. According to “Policy regarding veterans of the defence forces and the defence league”, approved by the Government in December 2012, the Veterans Day is celebrated on 23 April. With the Veterans Day, thanks and recognition is expressed to those men and women who have taken part in the military defence of the Estonian state in the membership of the Defence Forces. Recognition is also expressed to those who have participated in an international operation or a collective self-defence operation in the membership of the Defence Forces and on the basis of the International Military Cooperation Act. Also, recognition is expressed to those who have become permanently incapacitated for work during the performance of their duties in the Defence Forces, or at a military training as active members of the Defence League. 

The Riigikogu approved two Resolutions: 

The Riigikogu approved with 75 votes in favour the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Amendment of the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe”” (659 OE), submitted by the Foreign Affairs Committee, which provides for a replacement of members in the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Jaak Allik is appointed as a member of the delegation instead of Juku-Kalle Raid, Jaanus Tamkivi is appointed as an alternate member instead of Rait Maruste, Juhan Parts is appointed as an alternate member instead of Liisa-Ly Pakosta, and Barbi-Jenny Pilvre-Storgård is appointed as an alternate member.  

The Riigikogu approved with 70 votes in favour the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of Members of the Supervisory Board of the Foundation Environmental Investment Centre” (660 OE), submitted by the Environment Committee, according to which Kalev Kotkas, Rein Randver and Tõnis Kõiv become members of the Supervisory Board of the Foundation Environmental Investment Centre. 

The Riigikogu rejected one Bill: 

The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act (629 SE), initiated by the Member of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel, provides for more detailed regulation of the provisions relating to time-limits for the processing of draft legislation. 38 members of the Riigikogu supported the rejection of the Bill that was at the first reading, and 20 were against. 

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): https://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno&stcommand=stenogramm&day=13&date=1399967860 

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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