During the second reading of the crisis situation law on Monday, the Riigikogu adopted only one of the two amendments proposed by the Reform Party, which only work in conjunction with each other. The resulting defective act must now either be adopted or started over again, but in the latter case, the act would not enter into force before the government's emergency situation ends.
During the second reading of the Act amending the Emergency Act and the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act, the Reform Party proposed two amendments, which were supposed to enter into force together, so they would be compatible. The Riigikogu only voted one amendment through, which is why the text of the Act is no longer correct. The Riigikogu must now either approve the defective draft, or start the process over again.
The Reform Party proposed to give the subsidiary body managing the emergency situation - in this crisis the Health Board (Terviseamet) - unlimited jurisdiction for a limited time period, until the end of the year, when the new draft legislative text of the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act is set to be completed.
"The coalition, more precisely some EKRE MEP's, in today's discussion of the cluster draft supported one Reform Party proposed amendment, which would deprive the government of their power to intervene in the Health Board's decision making process. So if the emergency situation (eriolukord) ends but the crisis situation (hädaolukord) stays in place, the Health Board would retain the right to give orders to government and local government agencies," MP Signe Riisalo (Reform) explained on Monday.
"From the Reform Party's point of view we could be glad of the support, but our other proposed amendments, including proposals regarding the amendment in question, were not supported. This gives rise to confusion, and leaves the draft defective, as it cites an article of a paragraph that does not exist anymore. This is why we supported suspending the second reading of the act, which the coalition did opposed doing," Riisalo said. "Proposals 1 and 2 are interconnected, they do not work separately," she added.
Now the Riigikogu must either adopt a defective law or start from scratch. At the same time, the government says that the emergency situation is set to end on Monday, and the Act should be in force by then.
Social affairs committee chair Tõnis Mölder (Center) told ERR's online news in Estonian that with the Reform Party's proposal, an amendment was approved conferring the Health Board more power than the initiators of the draft legislation had in mind.
"As a result, the Health Board could then make major decisions with major economic impact," Mölder said.
Through various laws, the Health Board already has jurisdiction to take control in a crisis situation, but in the interest of legal clarity it was planned to break it down into one law, the State Secretary Taimar Peterkop told "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Monday.
Riisalo added that the defective law may on Wednestay still be passed and sent to be signed by President Kersti Kaljulaid, who might then find it inconsistent with the Constitution and decide to not promulgate the law.
Editor: Anders Nõmm