SHOW US the money. Lawmakers attend a preliminary vote on a bill at the Knesset.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MKs from across the political spectrum on Monday criticized a suggested reform bill by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) that seeks to limit lawmakers’ private members’ bills activity.
The legislation, which was brought for discussion on Monday at the Knesset House Committee, would in return grant MKs extra tools to supervise government activity. But the vast majority of the panel members – from both the coalition and opposition – expressed their disdain for the proposed bill.
“I was surprised to hear from the media about the initiative to limit the private members’ bills at the Knesset,” said committee chairman Yoav Kisch.
“I think that every MK feels that he is obligated to keep the dignity of the Knesset of the authorities that are reserved for it – including the private members’ legislation.”
Kisch added that no decision such as this reform would be imposed by the cabinet on the MKs. “No one will dictate from above what happens in this matter.”
Any reform regarding the way the Knesset operates must first be approved by the Knesset House Committee.
One of the major changes the bill proposes is to limit the number of bills an MK can submit to five a year, whereas today there is no cap on individual lawmakers submitting private bills.
MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu) said that the current legislation for the submission of private bills is not only a tool for initiating new laws, but also a way to raise awareness of certain issues. “During my time here at the Knesset, I passed more than a few [bills], and if I had to decide which are the most important four of them, I could not do that. Who should I give up on – victims of sexual assault or endangered children? Elderly citizens or single parents? I wonder how the Knesset speaker could support such legislation.
“If we [MKs] find out about a certain injustice, limiting us to four bills [a year] will not allow us any flexibility,” she said. “If the initiative passes, the government will not be able to undo the situation.”
Another change that the bill proposes is reducing the number of bills that the weekly Ministerial Committee for Legislation discusses from 45 to 15.
MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) said that Shaked is pushing for this reform in order to make her life easier and not to improve the Knesset’s performance. “Shaked herself submitted many bills last Knesset, before she became a minister. Now the Knesset members are a nuisance for her. The ministerial committee never discusses any issue thoroughly.”
If Shaked wants to change the way the Knesset works, she should come and speak with the lawmakers, he said.
“She cannot dictate this to us, this is crooked.”
Meanwhile, some MKs expressed their support of the initiative, saying it was time to put an end to the inflation of legislation in the Knesset. “The Israeli parliament has one of the highest records in private members’ legislation, and what it means is more and more interference of the state in the citizens’ day-to-day lives,” said MK Amir Ohana (Likud). “A true liberal wants the state out of the citizens’ private lives.”