State Duma: Quality First

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The State Duma has adopted the amendments to its Charter concerning the legislative procedure. First, the single “voting hour” has been abandoned. Now the decisions on all bills will be made by the deputies immediately after discussions at the plenary sessions. Second, voting for a bill at second and third readings simultaneously becomes an exceptional practice – if before deputies could suggest it, now this decision can be made only by the Council of the State Duma in response to a well-founded suggestion of the responsible committee. And as for social and budget bills, it is now impossible to vote for them at second and third readings the same day even as an exception. The government has to spread the content of by-laws before they will be approved at the third reading. Obviously, it is an actual rejection of fast-track adoption of bills at second and third readings and it raises the quality of law-making.

Political expert Gleb Kuznetsov perceive these measures as a logical follow-up to the efforts made by the leadership of the 7th State Duma and its chairman Vyacheslav Volodin to strengthen deputies’ liability towards their electorate:

— Voting is the principle task of the parliamentary work. And the kind of voting that we used to witness (when cards were passed over to the colleagues in a “voting hour” in support of the bill that they discussed some time ago) did not look good. And now: deputies discussed the bill, voted, and there is time to improve something between the readings, to hold some talks. This procedure influences the work of the parliament as such.

The head of the Center for Promotion of law-making Vadim Vinogradov emphasizes the amorphousness of the previous procedure of adopting laws at the two readings at the same time:

— The new procedure allows to adopt laws at second and third readings the same day but only after voting. Budget and social bills are an exception. Formerly this procedure was not regulated at all. There were no any restrictions or limitations. And now some limitations appear.

The procedure for social and budget bills is different since these are pressing issues, they affect a lot of people, and adopting these laws at second and third readings simultaneously speeds up the process of improving them. The compact procedure does not allow to return to the consideration of the bill at the second reading if some remarks on this bill appear. The changes are unlikely to complicate the deputies’ work, these measures are aimed at law-making quality improvement.

Doctor of Political Sciences, political commentator, Rostislav Turovsky also believes that these changes are right steps that increase the quality of State Duma’s work:

— Talking about renouncing the “voting hour”, it is, from my point of view, a great opportunity for the State Duma to get rid of the image of “voting machine” and ensure consistent, more detailed, sensible consideration of bills and let deputies consider carefully  how and why the vote in this or that way. This adds value not only to deputy’s vote and position, but also to each bill. As for a new measure dividing second and third reading of socially important bills, the situation is the same. Each of three independent readings should be relevant. Artificial acceleration of the processes in order to quickly adopt a law is absolutely unacceptable. This may, perhaps, complicate the procedure. But the value of the decision will increase. With this approach some updates will be made between the readings, especially concerning social consequences and financial and other opportunities of realization of this or that bill.


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