The opening sitting of the Riigikogu's fall session will see speeches by Riigikogu President Jüri Ratas and President of the Republic Alar Karis. The parliament will have to start by untangling the spring Family Benefits Act bill.
The spring session ended in quite a bit of confusion. The lines separating the coalition from the opposition and supporters of various bills from their opponents got hopelessly muddled. Family benefits disputes disrupted work, and because it took until mid-July for the new government to take over, everything ground to a halt. Including, for example, amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act meant to make it easier for Ukrainian children to access education and relevant services in Estonia. The bill was last discussed by the Riigikogu Cultural Affairs Committee on June 6. The new academic year has started and left us with the question of how are all of these things working in the absence of the amendment? Debates over family benefits are also set to continue.
But the Riigikogu can be prompt if it wants to, with the universal electricity service bill serving as one example. It was introduced at an extraordinary sitting in late August, the first reading conducted at the next one and is set to be passed this week. However, the spring's Gordian knot will have to be cut first. The start of regular sittings means picking up where the Riigikogu left off – proposals to amend the bill to amend the Family Benefits Act that total 1,191 of which just 151 have been addressed.
Because the new coalition has put together its own family benefits package, the desire is to get rid of the existing bill that will see Reform withdraw its amendment proposals. However, it cannot pull all of them as some who introduced proposals are no longer members of the Riigikogu. Therefore, the opposition can still ruin the Riigikogu returning to business as usual if it so wishes.
Things will also become clearer after a Social Affairs Committee sitting that will be held before the Riigikogu sitting on Monday.
Talking about other bills, the change of coalition will bring a change in priorities. It is to be believed a few bills that were on the verge of being passed will now be shelved instead. It is also possible some will be dusted off again.
But the fall session is sure to be dominated by the state budget. In addition to everything becoming more expensive and salaries not keeping up, Estonia is facing a series of crises solutions to which require money. And we should still find some for investments.
Editor's note: This article was updated to add the photo gallery.
Editor: Marcus Turovski