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The Riigikogu passed with 71 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Land Reform Act and Amendments to Other Acts arising therefrom (335 SE), initiated by the Government. The aim of the Act is to solve the problems that have appeared in the law that is currently in force and to provide for the changes necessary for speeding up the completion of the land reform. The main problems that are intended to be solved, and accordingly the main aims are the following: the regulation of the acquisition of the land necessary to service a construction in common ownership in situations where any of the co-owners does not wish to acquire the land; the solution of the problems related to the acquisition of land units which cannot be used independently and which are bordering on an immovable; the reduction of the amount of land retained in state ownership encumbered with the right of superficies for the benefit of owners of existing structures; the provision of the obligation to carry out the land reform as regards the land granted for use pursuant to Estonian SSR Farm Act; and the establishment of the deadlines necessary for faster completion of the land reform. Besides the Land Reform Act, this Act also amends the Law of Property Act Implementation Act, the Republic of Estonia Principles of Ownership Reform Act, the Earth’s Crust Act and the State Assets Act. The Act enters into force on 20 March 2013.

The Act on Amendments to the Territory of Estonia Administrative Division Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (352 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 62 votes in favour. When the amendments enter into force, the procedure for changing the administrative-territorial organisation will change. According to the new procedure, voluntary merger of local governments is not restricted by merging regions prescribed by the Government of the Republic. Also, local governments in special circumstances, that is, local governments located on islands, are expressly allowed to merge also when as a result of the merger of local governments there will be no common administrative border between the territories of the local governments. The purpose of the Act is to promote the merger of local governments and the organisation of the administrative division of the territory which will lead to a rise in the administrative capacity of local governments and their ability to prepare successful project applications, the improvement of the availability and quality of the public services offered by local governments on their territories, and the development of the cooperation capacity of local governments. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and 2 members abstained. The Act enters into force on the date following the date of publication in the Riigi Teataja.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the State Legal Aid Act, the State Fees Act, the Code of Civil Procedure and Other Associated Acts (346 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to improve and simplify the all-digital process of state legal aid by reducing the acts performed on paper both for application for state legal aid and for determining the state legal aid fee and the state legal aid expenses. The Bill provides a more favourable state fee rate upon filing an appeal against a court ruling via relevant information systems. The aim of amending the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure is to specify the regulation of the delivery of procedural documents via the e-file system. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and Acts relating to the Second Supplementary State Budget of the Year 2009 Act (318 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended. The aim of the Bill is to set the support measures for electricity produced from renewable sources and in combined heat and power production regime into conformity with European Commission criteria for state aid, to organise the situation in the electricity market, to ensure the proportionality of support measures to the goal to be achieved and to adapt the support measures to the developing internal market of electricity, including to reduce the distortions of competition owing to the current renewable energy sources support scheme, and to reduce the unjustifiably high economic burden on consumers.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Insurance Activities Act and Other Associated Acts (349 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to raise the minimum rate of own funds of insurance undertakings in the light of the judgment of the European Court of Justice according to which the premiums and benefits may not differ in life insurance, sickness insurance and accident insurance contracts of men and women concluded on the same terms. In addition, the Financial Supervision Authority will be authorised to exercise supervision over the settlement of short sale transactions and over-the-counter derivatives, and penalties for the violation of the requirements arising from directly applicable Regulations of the European Union will be determined. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act, the Maritime Safety Act and the State Fees Act (353 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to establish the regulation of compulsory insurance in respect of death of or personal injury to a passenger, or loss of or damage to luggage in international carriage of passengers. These provisions concern the enterprises providing the respective service in Estonia – AS Tallink Group and Lindaliini AS. According to the Annex of the respective EU Regulation, their ships will have to have a respective insurance or guarantee of a credit institution. The Estonian Maritime Administration as the competent authority will be obliged to issue a certificate concerning the existence of the respective insurance or guarantee. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Law of Obligations Act and the Code of Civil Procedure (372 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill transposes into Estonian law the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating late payment in commercial transaction. The Directive regulates the transactions in economic or professional activity, that is, transactions between undertakings or between undertakings and public authorities (the state, a local government or other person operating in public interest) with the aim of preventing late payment and improving the general payment discipline. Maximum periods of payment are provided for transactions in economic or professional activity deviations from which will be allowed only in limited cases. So, payment periods in transactions between undertakings may not normally exceed 60 calendar days. The Bill also provides for maximum time limits (a maximum of 30 days) for the receipt and review of goods, service or other benefit for transactions in economic and professional activities which may be agreed upon in the case when the payment period commences after the receipt or review of the goods, service or other benefit. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Foreign Service Act and the Public Service Act (366 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to amend the Foreign Service Act so that it would apply also to the administrative officials employed in foreign missions on the basis of an employment contract, in the light of the new Public Service Act which will enter into force on 1 April. At the same time the Bill aims to preserve the current foreign service system which establishes uniform rotation principles for diplomats as well as administrative officials. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Place Names Act and the Land Register Act (362 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to update and specify the regulation concerning the establishment and use of place names and ensure the quality of place name data both in the national place names register and in public use. According to the explanation of the initiator, so far, place names have been entered in the place names register only if they have been submitted for registration by a names authority or if the Place Names Board has made a relevant resolution. Therefore the volume of the data in the place names register has for long years remained stable, around circa 36 000-40 000 entries. However, there are significantly more place names in Estonia, an estimation of 200 000. As the initiator asserted, in order that the address data system can function on the basis of these place names, and rapid response teams can find rivers and lakes as well as hills and steep shorelines, it is necessary that all place names be collected in the place names register. It is also necessary to ensure that a place has the same name in different registers and the spelling of the name is the same on maps as well as in databases. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (376 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to decriminalise the cases when a person voluntarily surrenders a firearm, explosive device or an essential component thereof, ammunition or explosive in his or her unlawful possession. Voluntary surrender of dangerous object helps remove from circulation objects which pose a threat to general security, and thereby increase social security. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure (375 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to create a possibility to raise the quality of evidence and reduce disputes. The Bill establishes clear bases for video and sound recording of procedural acts and using such recordings as evidence which will reduce potential disputes concerning evidence in misdemeanours. Another significant purpose of the Bill is to enable an official of an extra-judicial body who has directly ascertained the facts of a misdemeanour to participate as a witness in court and complaint proceedings. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (339 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 51 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion to reject and 34 members voted against. Thus, this Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.

The sitting ended at 6.05 p.m.

The Riigikogu Press Service

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