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At the beginning of the sitting, the member of the Riigikogu Kalev Kallemets took the oath of office.
 

The Riigikogu passed ten Acts: 

The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (691 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor, Kalev Kotkas and Kalvi Kõva, and the Government, was approved with 54 votes in favour (8 against). It increases the flexibility of the formation of the Government cabinet and the distribution of areas of responsibility between ministers. The competence of a minister as the head of a ministry, and the areas of responsibility of ministers are determined by the Prime Minister by an order. The order is communicated at a sitting of the Government. The order of the Prime Minister remains in force until it is amended or until the expiry of the term of office of the Government of the Republic. The President of the Republic may, on the proposal of the Prime Minister, appoint to office ministers who do not direct ministries and whose functions are determined by the Prime Minister by an order which is communicated at a sitting of the Government of the Republic. Expenses of these ministers are covered from separate funds allocated for such purpose in the budget of the Government Office. The Government will not comprise more than 15 members. 

The Act on Amendments to the Riigikogu Election Act and Other Acts (617 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, was approved with 56 votes in favour (1 against). It specifies the procedure for conducting the voting in the elections of the Riigikogu, local government councils and the European Parliament, and in referendums. The Act provides for a facilitation of the voting in hospitals and 24-hour social welfare institutions. According to an amendment, a person who wishes to stand as a candidate in the elections to the Riigikogu or the European Parliament, or local government councils, should submit information also on his or her education to the electoral committee in an application to stand as a candidate. Three amendments concerning technical norms were also introduced into the Act. 

The Act on Amendments to the Penal Code and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (554 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 55 votes in favour. It reduces the number of punishable offences and eliminates overcriminalization. 

The Act on Amendments to the Gambling Tax Act and the Taxation Act (653 SE), initiated by the Government, which changes the regulation concerning the objects and rates of taxation established by the Gambling Tax Act, was passed with 53 votes in favour. In addition, the due date for the submission of gambling tax returns and the payment of gambling tax on gaming tables and gaming machines used for the organisation of games of chance is established on the same bases as in the case of other types of gambling. The Act ensures equal treatment of gambling operators in the field of gambling, and creates conditions for fair competition and preconditions for the promotion of enterprise. 

The Act on Amendments to the Fishing Act (620 SE), initiated by the Government, which regulates the verification of the engine power of fishing vessels, was passed with 53 votes in favour. The Act concerns the allocation of fishing opportunities, the transfer of the historical fishing rights of permanently inhabited small islands, and the technical possibilities for submitting data. The Act was amended by adding implementing provisions concerning the verification of the engine power of fishing vessels, arising from the relevant EU Regulation. According to an EU Regulation, Member States are required to enhance the surveillance of their fishing vessels and to certify the propulsion engine power of certain fishing vessels. The requirement concerns fishing vessels whose propulsion engine power exceeds 120 kW and which are entered in the register, and those on which a new propulsion engine is installed or the existing one is modified. In Estonia, there are in total less than 50 such vessels in which such operations on the propulsion engine are possible. Also, fishing opportunities based on the fishing authorisations of fishermen, by sea areas, were established. According to the Act, it will be possible to fish according to the actual state of the stocks, and to determine more precisely the locations where fishing gear is set. 

The Act on Amendments to the Waste Act (661 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 44 votes in favour. It introduces into the Waste Act the regulation relating to waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) falling within the scope of producer responsibility. The Act changes the definitions relating to WEEE and specifies the conditions for the export of used electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and the sending of WEEE to re-use. 

The Act on Amendments to the Spatial Information Act (652 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 47 votes in favour. It ensures compliance of Estonian law with European Union law which in turn will contribute to the establishment of a European Infrastructure for Spatial Information. It will facilitate the sharing of spatial data sets and services between holders of information both nationally and more widely in Europe. The relevant EU directive establishes an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE). Spatial data are, for example, buildings displayed on maps, roads, and water bodies, as well as address details, geodetic points, cadastral parcels, etc. 

The Act on Amendments to the Waste Act (455 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Inara Luigas, Kalle Laanet, Lembit Kaljuvee and Rainer Vakra, was approved with 38 votes in favour (8 against). It amends three sections of the current Act with a view to ensuring that waste would be transported to the intended destination as directly as possible. This will ensure the optimality of the organisation of waste management. 

The Act on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act and Other Acts (669 SE), initiated by the Government, which will enter into force at the beginning of the coming year, was passed with 53 votes in favour. 

“At last, one of the problem issues of our society has been resolved, the too low child benefits which had remained too small for far too long. With the Act that was passed today, both the child benefit and the needs-based family benefit for families with children with low income will increase next year. This will contribute to the improvement of the welfare of children, and will hopefully create preconditions for increasing the birth rate because the feeling of security of families will also improve,” the Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Heljo Pikhof said. 

According to the Act, the universal child allowance will increase as of 1 January. As of next year, the state will begin to pay a benefit in an amount of 45 euro, instead of the current 19.18 euro, for all first and second children of families. At the same time, the benefit for the third child and subsequent child will rise to 100 euro per month, and needs-based family benefits will increase to 45 euro per month for families with one child, and to 90 euro per month for families with two or more children. 

In order to improve the subsistence of families, upon the grant of subsistence benefits, the equivalence scale for children will be equalised with that for the first member of the household, which means that the subsistence benefit paid to families with children will increase. 

Representatives of factions Margus Tsahkna, Laine Randjärv and Heljo Pikhof who took the floor during the debate expressed support to the passing of the Act. 

The Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (643 SE), initiated by the Government, was approved with 45 votes in favour (1 against). It organises the rules of tax exemption for the compensation paid for service or employment related use of a personal automobile, and increases the limit of the compensation exempt from tax. The reimbursement for the use of an automobile in personal ownership in the performance of official duties will be raised from the earlier 256 euro to 335 euro per month. It will be possible to pay it exempt from tax in the amount of 0.3 euro/km only on the basis of records. According to an amendment, in the future, it will no longer be possible to pay the current amount of 64 euro per month exempt from tax without keeping records. 

Deliberation of the overview of the Chancellor of Justice: 

The Riigikogu heard the overview of the activities of the Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder in 2013. 

According to the Constitution, every year, the Chancellor of Justice gives an overview of how the Riigikogu and the Government have followed the Constitution. Teder noted that, in recent times, it has become common in our society to criticise the activities and work of the parliament. “More often than not, the critics forget the complexity of the work of the legislature, and fail to notice its positive outcomes,” Teder said. He added that deciding on the weighty issues shaping the life in Estonia is complicated, and inevitably sometimes decisions have to be made that may not be agreeable to all social groups but are necessary in the name of a great cause. Teder thanked the Riigikogu for keeping the right course, and for adopting many weighty decisions for the society. 

In his overview, the Chancellor of Justice analysed various Acts and issues relating to them. They concerned the applications of the Chancellor of Justice to the Supreme Court, local governments, children’s rights, and issues relating to the fundamental right to equality. 

Jaak Aaviksoo took the floor during the debate. 

Deliberation of a proposal of the Chancellor of Justice: 

The Riigikogu supported with 44 votes in favour the Proposal No 27 from the Chancellor of Justice to bring subsection 5 (2) of the Termination of Pregnancy and Sterilisation Act into conformity with the Constitution. Vice-President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas assigned the Social Affairs Committee to initiate a relevant Bill. 

As a result of his analysis, the Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder found that the provision of the Termination of Pregnancy and Sterilisation Act which prohibits the termination of the pregnancy of a minor without the consent of his or her legal representative or, if the legal representative does not consent, without the permission of a court, is in conflict with the Constitution as it disproportionately restricts the right to self-determination of a woman under 18 years of age, making her too dependent on her parents or guardian. At the same time, this restriction does not guarantee the rights of the minor to privacy and protection of health. If a woman of under 18 years of age wishes to terminate her pregnancy safely and without letting her parents or guardian know, then the requirement of consent prohibits her to do so. Besides, it is not possible to take into account the extent of maturity of the minor or to consider if involving the legal representative would be in her interests. 

Member of the Constitutional Committee Rein Lang gave an overview of the discussions that had been held in the Committee where the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice had been supported. The Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Heljo Pikhof also supported the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the Act into conformity with the Constitution. Kaia Iva who took the floor in the debate was of the same opinion. 

The Riigikogu concluded the second reading: 

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act (646 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Aivar Riisalu, Arto Aas, Deniss Boroditsh, Inara Luigas, Kalev Lillo, Kalle Laanet, Lauri Laasi, Lauri Luik, Lembit Kaljuvee, Olga Sõtnik, Peeter Laurson, Rainer Vakra, Rannar Vassiljev, Remo Holsmer, Valeri Korb and Vladimir Velman, is to ensure legal clarity in the calculation of the waterway due for vessels engaged in regular service in a situation where a vessel engaged in regular service is replaced with a replacement vessel. The Bill will preclude the possibility that the obligated person will have to pay a double waterway due upon the replacement of a vessel engaged in regular service. 

The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill.

The result of voting: nobody was in favour, 70 were against and 2 abstained. The motion was not supported. 

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of five Bills: 

At the night sitting today, the Riigikogu deliberated the Cohabitation Bill, and it was decided to conclude the first reading. 

Valdo Randpere gave an overview of the Bill on behalf of the initiators. The Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee Neeme Suur discussed the content of the discussions that had been held in the leading committee. 

The Cohabitation Bill (650 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Aare Heinvee, Aivar Riisalu, Andrus Ansip, Arto Aas, Barbi Pilvre, Eiki Nestor, Enn Eesmaa, Ester Tuiksoo, Heljo Pikhof, Imre Sooäär, Indrek Saar, Jaak Allik, Jüri Jaanson, Jüri Morozov, Kadri Simson, Kaja Kallas, Kalle Jents, Kalle Palling, Karel Rüütli, Kristen Michal, Laine Randjärv, Lauri Laasi, Lauri Luik, Mailis Reps, Maimu Berg, Marianne Mikko, Mart Meri, Mati Raidma, Meelis Mälberg, Neeme Suur, Olga Sõtnik, Rainer Vakra, Rait Maruste, Rannar Vassiljev, Rein Aidma, Remo Holsmer, Tarmo Leinatamm, Tatjana Jaanson, Tiina Lokk-Tramberg and Valdo Randpere, presents a comprehensive gender-neutral regulation which includes the mutual legal relations of persons who have entered into a cohabitation agreement (registered civil partners), and their legal relations with third persons.

The aim of the Cohabitation Bill is to ensure sufficient protection of persons living in non-marital cohabitation, in accordance with the Constitution and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, at the same time being mindful that the institution of marriage would not be harmed and the motivation of pairs to enter into marriages would not be reduced. The parties will be given the possibility to enter into a cohabitation agreement for regulation of practical problem situations. The scope of application of the Cohabitation Bill involves the procedure for entering into a cohabitation agreement, the rights and responsibilities of registered civil partners, and the bases for terminating the cohabitation agreement. 

In addition, the Cohabitation Bill refers to possible areas in which registered civil partners can agree upon in addition to the rights and responsibilities provided for in the Act. The entry into a cohabitation agreement has been devised as a mixed version of the contract and registration based model. An agreement will be notarised by a notary who has sufficient legal knowledge for drawing up an agreement and who ensures the protection of the rights of the parties when performing the counselling and explaining function. A cohabitation agreement and the proprietary relationship chosen in the agreement will be entered in the register. 

Representatives of factions Eiki Nestor and Imre Sooäär who took the floor during the debate called for a conclusion of the first reading of the Bill. Priit Sibul presented arguments against the Bill and did not support it. Kadri Simson said that their faction had not developed a common position on this Bill. 

The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. The result of voting: 32 votes in favour, 45 against. The motion was not supported. 

The deadline for submission of motions to amend is 4.00 p.m. on 12 September.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Amendments to the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria”” (690 OE), submitted by the Government, also passed the first reading. This year, the UN has made several proposals to Estonia to man, in addition to three observers, also other leading and noteworthy positions of Senior Staff Officers. The proposals show the trust of the UN in the Estonian state and in the professionality of Estonian officers. The acceptance of new positions would increase the visibility and credibility of Estonia as a country contributing to UN operations. The current mandate restricts the contribution to the mission to up to three servicemen. Therefore, a proposal is made to change the mandate given by the Riigikogu and to increase the number of Estonian servicemen in the mission from the current three servicemen to six. 

The Bill on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act and the State Pension Insurance Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts and the Income Tax Act (685 SE), initiated by the Government, raises the increased basic exemption rate of pensions from the current 210 euro to 220 euro per month, and the average old-age pension will continue to be exempt from income tax. According to a provision which has not entered into force yet, as of 1 January 2015, an additional pension supplement in the amount of the value of one year of pensionable service for raising a child born before 2013 will be added to the pension of one parent, the husband of the parent, the guardian or the home carer. The Bill provides for the postponement of the deadline for the entry into force of the payment of an additional pension supplement to 1 January 2018. 

Representatives of factions Urmas Reinsalu and Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who took the floor in the debate, did not support the Bill. Inara Luigas expressed support to the Bill. 

The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to reject the Bill. The result of voting: 33 votes in favour, 53 against. The motion was not supported. 

In the course of the drafting of the Child Protection Bill (677 SE), initiated by the Government, the major issues relating to ensuring the protection of the rights and welfare of the child had been mapped. Various international and national studies and analyses concerning the issue of the protection of the rights and welfare of the child had been analysed for that purpose. The Bill is intended to create in the society an environment which values children and promotes the development of children. The Bill provides that children in circumstances endangering their health and wellbeing must be ensured timely and relevant assistance and care in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other relevant legislation. The drafting of the Bill had been based on the protection of the interests of the child in the best way, the need to develop the national organisation of child protection and to enhance state supervision, and to improve the quality of the child protection work of local governments. 

Margus Tsahkna who took the floor during the debate expressed support to the hard toilers who had prepared the new Child Protection Bill. In his words, the current Child Protection Act is outdated and it needs amendment. 

The Benefit for Capacity for Work Bill (678 SE), initiated by the Government, regulates the assessment of the capacity for work, and the conditions and procedure for the grant and payment of the benefit for capacity for work. The Bill is part of a larger package of amendments, the reform of the capacity for work scheme. The reform is intended to provide complex assistance and support for participation in the labour market to people with a health condition, taking into account the individual needs and barriers of every person. An integrated approach means that the assessment of the capacity for work supports the offering of suitable employment services and the finding of a suitable job appropriate to the state of health of the person. The aim of the Bill is to support the working and employment of people with a reduced capacity for work, and to ensure an income for them. The aim is to prevent incapacity for work, and to motivate people to be active in the life of the society to the extent of the capacity for work they still have. 

Representatives of factions Margus Tsahkna and Marika Tuus-Laul, who took the floor during the debate, did not support the Bill. Heljo Pikhof and Jüri Jaanson considered the continuation of the legislative proceeding of the Bill necessary. 

The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill. The result of voting: 34 votes in favour, 50 against. The motion was not supported. 

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Citizenship Act (645 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. It had been intended to simplify the granting of Estonian citizenship to the children born in Estonia one of whose parents is a stateless person, under the condition that their parents have legally resided in Estonia for at least five years. The result of voting: 50 votes in favour, 15 against. The Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding. 

The Government as the initiator withdrew from the legislative proceeding of the Riigikogu the Public Transport Bill (404 SE).

The sitting which began at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 18 June, ended at 9.45 a.m. on Thursday, 19 June. 

The Riigikogu will continue the discussion of the draft legislation on the agenda of the working week of the Riigikogu at Thursday’s sitting at 10 a.m.

 

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

 

 

 

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