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The Riigikogu supported the Proposal No. 2 from the Chancellor of Justice. Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder presented to the Riigikogu the Proposal concerning constitutionality of the provisions of the European Parliament Election Act, the Local Government Council Election Act and the Riigikogu Election Act prohibiting political outdoor advertising. According to the analysis of the Chancellor of Justice, some sections of the specified Acts are in conflict with §§ 57, 60 and 156 in conjunction with § 11 of the Constitution to the extent that they prohibit all political outdoor advertising during the active election campaigning period and prescribe liability for violation of the restrictions established on political outdoor advertising to the party who orders advertising, intermediator, producer, the person who presents advertising to the public, the person who exhibits advertising to the public or the person who transmits advertising to the public. Pursuant to the Proposal, the Riigikogu should bring sections 51 and 711 of the European Parliament Election Act, sections 61 and 672 of the Local Government Councils Election Act and sections 51 and 732 of the Riigikogu Election Act into conformity with the Constitution. The report of the Constitutional Committee was presented by Chairman of the Committee Väino Linde. 29 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Proposal, nobody abstained. Pursuant to the resolution of the Riigikogu, the Constitutional Committee will have to initiate the corresponding Bill.

The Supplementary Budget of the Year 2008 Act (273 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 57 votes in favour. The supplementary budget will reduce the revenue of this year’s budget by 6.1 billion kroons and the expenditure by 3.2 billion kroons. The Act enters into force on the day following its publication in the Riigi Teataja. 34 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Criminal Procedure Implementation Act (219 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 84 votes in favour. The Act increases the speed and efficiency of hearing of criminal matters in general procedure. For this purpose, the principle of non-interruption and immediacy is established which requires that hearing of a criminal matter be planned such that it is not interrupted. A court session may be postponed only in the cases provided in the Code. A new section is added to the Code of Criminal Procedure which provides summoning in county courts in the general procedure. The Act enters into force on 15 July 2008. Clauses 1 6) and 3) of the Act enter into force on 1 January 2009 and clause 1 5) enters into force on 1 January 2010. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure (238 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 82 votes in favour. The purpose of the amendments is to amend the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure such that they would be in conformity with the requirements provided in the Council Framework Decision of 24 February 2005 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties. The restrictions on assistance in the execution of a punishment or other sanction imposed in the applying state are specified in the Code of Criminal Procedure. It also provides substitution of pecuniary punishments imposed in foreign states, termination of the execution of court judgments, and recognition and execution of pecuniary punishments or fines imposed by other agencies of foreign states. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure (239 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The amendments are related to Estonia’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Estonia as an OECD candidate country must achieve full compliance with the requirements of the Convention as an accession criterion. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act (259 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to eliminate the obstacles standing in the way of free movement of persons and to ensure the right to work in positions and professions regulated in Estonia to persons who have acquired foreign professional qualifications. An applicant has the right to work in a position regulated in Estonia if his or her professional qualification is recognised. The right to work means access to a position or profession, and it provides an opportunity to apply for commencing or continuing work at a certain specialty or profession (to compete on the labour market). However, this is not a guarantee that a person will actually be employed because the employer will make the final decision. This Act enters into force on 1 July 2008 and § 35 of the Act enters into force on 1 September 2008. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure, the Courts Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure (260 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 82 votes in favour. The amendments specify the education requirements for judges, defence counsels in misdemeanour proceedings and contractual representatives in civil and criminal proceedings established by the Act on Amendments to the Courts Act, the Bar Association Act and Associated Acts (amendment of 2005), and harmonise the wording of these requirements with education terminology. The Act enters into force on 1 July 2008. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Defence Forces Organisation Act (202 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 54 votes in favour. The Act provides the legal status and functions of the Defence Forces, the structure of the Defence Forces, the bases for the management of the Defence Forces, and the bases for use of force by the Defence Forces. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2009. 31 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Peace-Time National Defence Act, the War-Time National Defence Act and the Government of the Republic Act (203 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 52 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to introduce amendments arising from the Defence Forces Organisation Act into the Acts which require qualified majority in order to be passed in the Riigikogu. Amendments to other Acts are provided in Chapter 7 “Implementing Provisions” of the Defence Forces Organisation Bill. The Act is handled only in connection with the Defence Forces Organisation Act and the Act enters into force on 1 January 2009. 30 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act (280 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 78 votes in favour. This Act corrects the deficiencies which have become apparent in the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act which entered into force in 2005, and some legal provisions are specified because they have proved not to be in full compliance with European Union law. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Universities Act, the Private Schools Act and the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act and Associated Acts (272 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, was passed with 78 votes in favour. The main function of the Act is to implement the activities arising from the Higher Education Strategy in the legislation regulating higher education. As an objective arising from the Higher Education Strategy, the amendments concern legislating of joint curricula, degrees and diplomas, the quality assurance system and legislating of the right to carry out instruction. Also, additional amendments arising from practice are introduced into the Act. This Act enters into force on 1 September 2008; clause 6 6) and §§ 26 and 27 of the Act enter into force on 1 January 2009; clause 27 2), §§ 29 and 52, clauses 80 2) and 4) and §§ 81 and 82 enter into force on 1 January 2011; § 49 enters into force on 1 January 2014. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Alcohol Act (89 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 61 votes in favour. The Act provides permission of retail sale of alcoholic beverages in the places of sale specified in the Act from 10 am to 10 p.m. The restriction does not apply in the customs control zones of airports open for international traffic and on board of water craft or aircraft carrying out international travels. 12 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and 2 members of the Riigikogu abstained.

The Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act (275 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The Act provides the state measures for the balanced development of agricultural market, for the provision of consumers with quality food, for cost-effective production of agricultural products, for the development other economic activities in rural regions and for ensuring a fair standard of living to the residents of rural regions, the bases for and extent of supervision of the application of national measures, and the liability for violation of the Act. The Act enters into force on 1 August 2008. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act (212 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 68 votes in favour. The Act repeals the section of the Nature Conservation Act concerning exchange of immovables and provides the corresponding transitional provisions which allow the proceeding of applications for exchange of immovables submitted before entry into force of the Act to be continued within the framework of the proceedings for acquisition of an immovable. Also, the current regulation of acquisition proceedings is specified, so as to allow the value of a protected immovable which is being acquired to be determined as exactly as possible. The Act is amended by adding the sections with provisions relating to the permit for marking of bats and birds, and the caviar handling licence. Nobody voted against the Act, 3 members of the Riigikogu abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Penal Code (225 SE), initiated by the Legal Affairs Committee, was passed with 65 votes in favour. This Act prescribes criminal punishment for systematic small thefts. It is important that the offence of the persons who repeatedly and intentionally commit small thefts be regarded by society as a crime and not as a misdemeanour. The amendments have the objective of influencing the behaviour of persons who repeatedly and intentionally commit small thefts, of which more than 70 per cent are thefts from shops. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to § 16 and § 19 of the Environmental Charges Act (264 SE), initiated by the Environment Committee, was passed with 69 votes in favour. The amendments are related to the current taxation of methane emissions in Estonia. Methane emissions are not taxable in other European Union Member States although the European Union needs the calculation of methane emissions for the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions. Taxation of methane emissions creates a tax burden for enterprises engaged in agricultural producing which interferes with the competitiveness of Estonian enterprises in foreign market. In view of the abovementioned problem, this Act provides the exemption of methane emissions from pollution charge. The versions of clause 16 6) and clause 19 (1) 5) of the Act which were passed on 19 June 2008 apply as of 1 January 2008. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act, nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act (246 SE) and (196 SE), initiated by the Government and the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was passed with 70 votes in favour. The purpose of the amendments is to eliminate the deficiencies in the Health Insurance Act which have become apparent in practice, to define in more detail the process for entering into contracts of financing of treatment, and to specify the regulation concerning the medical devices on the basis of which the health insurance fund is required to pay a fee pursuant to the Health Insurance Act. The amendments ensure, on equal terms with old-age pensioners, the benefit for denture also for persons receiving a pension for incapacity for work, a survivor’s pension, a national pension, a superannuated pension and an old-age pension under favourable conditions. Clauses 1 9)-11) of this Act enter into force on 1 September 2008 and clause 1 2) enters into force on 1 August 2009. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to § 265¹ of the Securities Market Act (282 SE), initiated by the Finance Committee, was passed with 70 votes in favour. The Act grants investment firms additional preparation time for bringing their activities into conformity with the new capital requirements framework and submitting new reporting forms of prudential norms. The Act enters into force on the day following its publication in the Riigi Teataja. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Authorised Public Accountants Act (283 SE), initiated by the Finance Committee, was passed with 68 votes in favour. The purpose of the amendments to the Authorised Public Accountants Act is to bring it into conformity with § 12 of the Constitution and to repeal the provision concerning the age limit of auditors which is in conflict with the principle of equal treatment. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act (245 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 69 votes in favour. The amendments of the Aviation Act arise from the need to improve the regulation relating to air operator’s certificates, and from the requirements of the field established by the European Union and other international organisations. The State Fees Act is amended in connection with the amendments to the provisions in the Aviation Act regulating the charging of state fee for acts of the Civil Aviation Administration. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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