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The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Election Act and Other Acts passed the second reading in the Riigikogu. It provides for the establishment of the national electoral service which will organise elections, and extends the possibilities of persons to report election violations.

The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Election Act and Other Acts (160 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, will update the procedure for conducting, organisation and supervision of elections. According to the Bill, the national electoral service, which will be established as a separate structural unit of the Chancellery of the Riigikogu on the basis of the Elections Department of the Chancellery and will be independent in the performance of the functions arising from Acts concerning elections, will be the organiser of elections at the state level. The National Electoral Committee will remain responsible for ensuring the fairness and lawfulness of the elections; it will ascertain the election results, exercise supervision over the organisers of the elections, and review complaints.

The Bill will also extend the possibilities of persons to report election violations. According to the Bill, a person will have the right to submit an application concerning deficiencies in the organisation of the elections to the national electoral service in a free-form manner. The application is intended as an addition to complaint, enabling a person to address the organiser of the elections to solve a problem pursuant to the simplified procedure, and to have a quick solution to the problem.

More than 56 motions to amend the Bill had been submitted for the second reading. During the second reading, the Riigikogu introduced nine motions to amend of a technical nature into the Bill. They specified for example the procedure for entry into force of a written order of the national electoral service or a county head of elections, and the drafting of a regulation on the formation of polling divisions.

According to the Bill, the Act would enter into force as of 1 January 2017.

The motion of the Centre Party Faction to suspend the second reading of the Bill was not supported by the Riigikogu. 33 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 49 were against.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Copyright Act (163 SE), initiated by the Government. 55 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour and there was one abstention. The Act transposes the relevant European Union directive the deadline for which is 10 April 2016. The aim of the directive is to harmonise the fundamental principles of the activities of the organisations related to collective management at European Union level, to establish a mechanism for cross-EU licensing of the use of musical works, and to establish the obligation of supervision of the activities of collective management organisations. Collective management organisations are associations who give, on the basis of the authorisation of their members – authors, performers and producers –, licences for the use of works to different businesses, such as shops, shopping centres, restaurants, hotels or media services providers. At present, there are remarkable differences in the activities of such associations in the EU, particularly in terms of their transparency and their reporting obligation before their members and rightholders.

The Bill on Amendments to the Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors thereof (170 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading in the Riigikogu. According to the Bill, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances will have to be operatively included in the schedule of prohibited narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. It provides for a possibility for the inclusion of new psychoactive substances in the schedule of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances by groups of substances. A group of substances includes substances with a similar general structural formula. Under current law, new psychoactive substances are included in the schedule of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances one-by-one on the proposal of the State Agency of Medicines. The procedure of inclusion in the schedule takes two months at a minimum which means that often a substance is included in the schedule only later. Inclusion of substances in schedules by groups will allow to quickly and efficiently restrict the spread and handling of new psychoactive substances.

The Bill on Amendments to the Status of Members of the Riigikogu Act and the Local Government Organisation Act (181 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, passed the first reading. It provides for the right of a member of the Riigikogu to be a member of a local government council and to perform the functions of a council member. The Bill will eliminate the restrictions according to which members of the Riigikogu may not participate in the work of rural municipality or city councils, and will give them the possibility to have a say again in organising the life of the local government of their residence.

When presenting the Bill, member of the Constitutional Committee Andre Sepp stressed that, upon the entry into force of the Act, members of the Riigikogu can also be members of local government councils and participate in the work of the councils. He noted that the amendment proposed by the Bill is in conformity with the action programme of the Government coalition. Sepp added that the Bill will preclude the receiving of double remuneration in these positions.

During the debate, Artur Talvik took the floor on behalf of the Free Party Faction, Mart Helme on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, Mihhail Stalnuhhin on behalf of the Centre Party Faction and Kalle Laanet on behalf of the Reform Party Faction.

The Free Party Faction moved to suspend the first reading of the Bill. 16 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 46 were against, and there was one abstention. The motion was not supported by the Riigikogu and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.

Two Bills were dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Council Election Act and Other Acts, Prohibiting Decoy Candidates (177 SE), initiated by the Free Party Faction, was dropped from the proceedings. The aim of the Bill is to improve the political culture of Estonia and to eliminate the institution of decoy candidates that has become established. The Bill proposed to establish the principle of incompatibility of mandates in Estonia: a new mandate acquired revokes the previous mandate. A person who has already been elected to the Riigikogu but successfully stands as a candidate for another representative body will lose his or her seat in the previous representative body. If a member of the Riigikogu is elected to a local government council, his or her mandate of the Riigikogu will be revoked, and vice versa.

During the debate, Andres Ammas spoke on behalf of the Free Party Faction, Mark Soosaar on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction and Urve Tiidus on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, who moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 43 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 17 were against, thus the Bill was dropped from the proceedings.

The Bill on Amendments to the State Budget Act (173 SE), initiated by the Free Party Faction, was also dropped from the proceedings. It had been intended to introduce a provision to the State Budget Act, obligating to direct to the stabilisation reserve all amounts received by the state during the budgetary year from persons on whom a fine or a pecuniary punishment has been imposed for an offence within the meaning of §§ 44 and 47 of the Penal Code.

Jüri Adams took the floor during the debate.

The Finance Committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 39 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of this motion and 18 were against, thus the Bill was dropped from the proceedings.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
6316356; 515 3903
epp-mare.kukemelk@riigikogu.ee
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

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