MPs meet over healthcare, TV Slovenija bills, repeal of laws

Ljubljana – The National Assembly is meeting on Thursday to pass several high-profile pieces of legislation, including an emergency bill to tackle long wait times in healthcare, a new bill on the public broadcaster and a bill sponsored by an NGO and backed by nearly 15,000 voters that would repeal changes made by the previous government to 11 laws.

Meeting for two emergency sessions, MPs are also expected to endorse bills ratifying protocols on Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO and an agreement with Italy on solidarity measures to ensure reliable gas supplies. Italy has already ratified the accord.

Several controversial bills are on the agenda after they have been endorsed in fast-track procedure by the coalition majority on respective committees amid warnings by the opposition that they would land at the Constitutional Court or be challenged in a referendum.

One such is a bill that was submitted to parliament in late April by the NGO called 8 March Institute, along with almost 15,000 voter signatures in a bid to repeal several laws passed by the previous government. The bill enjoys the support of the Robert Golob government, however even the parliamentary legal service warned that the laws should not be repealed in one go.

The bill proposes annulling changes to as many as 11 pieces of legislation, including provisions governing the composition of the councils of educational institutions, staffing in the police force and exclusion of NGOs active in nature conservation from procedures dealing with environmental issues.

Meanwhile, the government-sponsored emergency bill seeks to address the acute problem of reduced accessibility to healthcare as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic by securing extra money so that public health care providers and concessionaires could provide all the services required to tackle wait times.

The latter bill is being passed in an emergency procedure and will be accompanied with a proposal for parliament to ban a referendum on the bill. A vote on that proposal is to be taken at a separate session right after the bill’s confirmation.

In addition, the ruling coalition has also tabled a proposal to ban a referendum on changes to the communicable diseases act after two referendum initiatives seeking to challenge the law.

Another controversial piece of legislation to be fast-tracked and rubber-stamped by the coalition majority today is amendments to the RTV Slovenija act. The coalition say the aim is to de-politicise the public broadcaster, but the opposition claim its only goal is to replace the current management and bodies governing RTV Slovenija.

Under the proposal, the RTV Slovenija programme council and supervisory board would be replaced by a single 17-member council. None of its members would be appointed by parliament. It would be advised by a five-strong financial board. The broadcaster would be run by a management rather than director general.

Also on the agenda today is a bill on alternative investment funds that is one of the requirements for the payment of the first instalment from the EU’s post-pandemic recovery mechanism.

MPs will also debate a bill that seeks to align guidance for professional and academic titles across all fields of study and thus make them internationally comparable.