The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of two Bills:
The Gambling Bill (216 SE), initiated by the Government, organises the Estonian gambling market and updates the requirements for organising gambling games. One problem with the current regulation is the spread of games which are similar to a gambling game or a lottery but which cannot be treated as a specific type of gambling game on the basis of law. This raises doubts about admissibility of organising such games.
The organisation of gambling games in Estonia is regulated by the Gambling Act, passed on 14 June 1995, and the organisation of one type of gambling game, lotteries, is regulated by the Lotteries Act, passed on 15 June 1994. The Gambling Act has been amended as many as seven times and the Lotteries Act has been amended six times. All amendments have been minimal and of technical nature. In comparison to mid-1990s, the gambling market as well as the possibilities for organising supervision have changed significantly. The Lotteries Act and the Gambling Act which are currently in force fall short in fulfilling their purpose and this indicates that updating of the legal regulation concerning gambling games is justified. In this Bill, the provisions regulating lottery as one type of gambling game have been merged in the same Act together with remaining gambling games. Although lottery has its peculiarities when compared to other gambling games, merging of the two separate Acts proved expedient because general provisions are common for all types of gambling games, as are the bases for exercising supervision. Amendments in the regulation of gambling games necessitate amendment of the Gambling Act which however had to be formulated as a separate Bill due to the great number of amendments.
The Bill on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act and the State Fees Act (274 SE), initiated by the Government, implements the mutual recognition in Estonia of certificates of competency issued by the European Union member states. The Bill allows lighthouse dues, ice breaking dues and navigation dues to be collected pursuant to enforcement procedure. The Bill establishes state fees for issuing of a certificate of competency of the crew member and endorsements thereto, the certificate concerning completion of an in-service training course, and the certificate of competency as a deck officer of an inland vessel and the endorsement thereto which will result in increased costs for undertakings and natural persons.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of eleven Bills:
The Temporary Administration of Salary of Member of Riigikogu Bill (342 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, regulates the payment of salary to Members of the Riigikogu from January 2009 until 28 February 2010. According to the Bill, the average wages in the fourth quarter of 2007 in Estonia will be the ceiling in the calculation of the salary.
The Bill on Amendments to the Red Cross Designation and Emblem Act and the Penal Code (309 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the Act by adding the obligations arising from the international agreement in order to bring it into conformity with the third Protocol. The Bill regulates the use of the emblem of red crystal in Estonia and in foreign states. It also amends the current regulation of the Red Cross designation and emblem with a view to simplifying and specifying the procedure for the use of the distinctive emblem for protection and reference purposes.
The Bill on Amendments to the Postal Act (148 SE), initiated by the Government, re-opens the Estonian postal market to competition, ensures continuation of the provision of the universal postal service in competition conditions, the provision of quality postal services and the protection of users of postal services. The Bill provides the mechanism for financing the universal postal service in order to compensate, as necessary and in view of the purpose of the provision of the service, the costs which unfairly burden the provision of the universal postal service in a manner which would less deform the domestic market than would the preserving of monopoly. It also specifies and amends the procedure for appointing the universal postal service provider and the conditions of the activity licence. The Bill transposes to the legal space of Estonia the directive of the European Parliament and the Council, amending the relevant directive concerning the full accomplishment of the internal market of Community postal services.
The Bill on Amendments to the Fertilizers Act and the State Fees Act (310 SE), initiated by the Government, improves legal certainty. The Bill specifies the provisions which have been problematic in the implementation of the Act. Adoption of the Bill as an Act will eliminate several terminological inaccuracies, amend the Act according to the European Union law, regulate the field and, among other things, enhance supervision exercised over the handling of fertilizers. The situation will be simplified for handlers of fertilizers with the “EEC fertilizer” marking as registration for a fee will be replaced by the single notification obligation free of charge which will reduce the administrative burden of undertakings. As of now, a relevant document (certificate of quality of the fertilizer) concerning the composition of the fertilizer, issued by the producer, may be the document attesting the conformity of the composition of a fertilizer, besides the test protocol issued by an accredited laboratory.
The Bill on Amendments to the Animal Protection Act (328 SE), initiated by the Government, eliminates several inaccuracies, amends the Animal Protection Act according to the principles of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals and ensures more efficient regulation of the field and the implementation without failure.
The Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act and Other Acts arising from Implementation of Levels of Language Proficiency Defined in Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (325 SE), initiated by the Government, brings the names of the mandatory levels of language proficiency used in Acts into conformity with the names of the levels established on the basis of the Council of Europe Framework Document levels of language proficiency. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill. The result of voting: 11 votes in favour, 37 against. The motion was not supported.
The Bill on Amendments to the Courts Act (326 SE), initiated by the Government, brings the name of the mandatory level of proficiency in Estonian used in the Courts Act into conformity with the names of the levels established on the basis of the Council of Europe Framework Document levels of language proficiency. At present, the concepts of basic, intermediate and advanced level are used when measuring the level of language proficiency of people. These levels have been applied since 1999 when the system of language proficiency examinations was adopted instead of category examinations. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation 1539 in 2001 which includes, among other things, a proposal to European states to take the Common European Framework of Reference as the basis for developing their language policies, learning and teaching foreign languages and measuring language proficiency so as to ensure coherent and transparent principles in the assessment of foreign language proficiency.
The Bill on Amendments to the European Parliament Election Act, the Local Government Council Election Act, the Referendum Act and the Riigikogu Election Act (321 SE), initiated by the Government, gives voters the possibility to use electronic voting in elections and referendums during a longer period than has been the case so far. In addition, a possibility will be created for using a mobile phone (mobile ID) besides the ID-card in electronic voting.
According to the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (322 SE), initiated by the Government, the General Part of the Penal Code is amended by adding two provisions. The first of these provides punishability of an attempt of instigation to crime, the consent to a proposal to commit a crime and an agreement to commit a crime. The other provision sets out the possibility to be released from liability by abandoning an attempt of instigation, an agreement or consent.
The Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code and the Penal Code and Associated Acts (332 SE), initiated by the Government, enhances the legal certainty relating to the election of members of management bodies of legal persons. It amends the regulation of the election of management bodies of legal persons and allows a court to impose a prohibition on business on persons as supplementary punishment for commission of certain crimes.
The Rehabilitation Bill (334 SE), initiated by the Government, regulates the conducting of rehabilitation proceeding, a proceeding which is new for the Estonian legal order. The rehabilitation proceeding is designed as a subclass of the proceedings on petition which starts with the application of the person who wishes to rehabilitate the enterprise belonging to him or her. The court commences rehabilitation proceeding on the basis of the application filed if there is a reason to believe that rehabilitation would restore the profitability of the enterprise. Upon commencing the proceeding, the court appoints a rehabilitation adviser whose main task is to advise the person who is being rehabilitated and to supervise the activities of the person. The court also sets a term during which a rehabilitation plan must be submitted for approval to the court. A rehabilitation plan provides the measures to be taken to overcome payment difficulties, and the length of the term during which the claims of creditors are to be satisfied. The court can approve a rehabilitation plan which has been approved by creditors in voting or which has not been approved. The court orders an economic analysis of the rehabilitation plan for a rehabilitation plan which has not been approved by creditors. The approved rehabilitation plan will apply only to those creditors whose claims are transformed by the rehabilitation plan and who have voted on the approval of the rehabilitation plan. After the rehabilitation plan has been approved, fulfilling of the plan begins. Fulfilling of the plan is supervised by the rehabilitation adviser. The rehabilitation proceeding terminates when the program has been fulfilled in accordance with requirements.
At Question Time, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered the question about the administrative reform, submitted by Ain Seppik, the question about sharp degradation of the environmental situation, submitted by Valdur Lahtvee, and the question about national security, submitted by Karel Rüütli. The Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder answered the question about the situation in agriculture, submitted by Toomas Varek. The Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts answered the question about Eesti Post Ltd, submitted by Ester Tuiksoo.
The Riigikogu Press Service