Riigikogu ends all-night session voting on 55 of 121 amendments to administrative reform bill
In a marathon session that continued through the night and ended at 2 p.m. on Thursday, the Riigikogu managed to vote on 55 of the 121 amendments submitted to the administrative reform bill. The opposition Center Party and the Conservative Estonian People’s Party (EKRE) filibustered the session.
The second reading of the government's administrative reform bill was the fifth item on the agenda of the Wednesday sitting of the Riigikogu, which started at 2 p.m. By the end of the session at 10 a.m. on Thursday, lawmakers had voted on 34 proposals for amendments to the bill. The session then resumed formally as that of Thursday.
Under the Riigikogu's house rules, a session of the Riigikogu continues until all bills and draft resolutions introduced by the government and included in the session's agenda have been dealt with, but not for longer than until the beginning of that of the next day. The Thursday session started at 10 a.m. and continued until 1 p.m., when it was extended by one hour.
The administrative reform bill is to set out the rules and regulations for changing the administrative-territorial organization of Estonia, the minimum size of a municipality, including exceptions, as well as the rights and obligations of the parties in a merger of municipalities.
According to the bill's authors and sponsors, the aim of the reform is to increase municipalities' capabilities to offer quality public services and their competitiveness.
Both Center and EKRE delayed the proceedings. MP Jüri Ratas (Center) said to ETV’s “Aktuaalne Kaamera” on Wednesday that it wasn’t asked too much to allow for the discussion of further amendments, as the bill and the administrative reform had been in the works for a long time.
MP Martin Helme (EKRE) said that the administrative reform bill represented an attempt of the governing parties to extend and solidify their powers at the level of local government, and that this couldn’t be allowed.