Archive for January, 2011


Today’s session lasted less than three hours. All three bills discussed became law after passing their third readings. The government survived the three no-confidence motions submitted by the opposition on the topics of raising fuel prices, the Al Jazeera papers and the building freeze in Jerusalem. Speaker Rivlin broke from the government and his party by deciding not to participate in the no-confidence motion vote on the continued building freeze in Jerusalem, despite being present and presiding over the debate and voting. National Union took the opportunity for a roll-call vote, forcing Rivlin to state on the record that he chose not to participate in the vote. It should be noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu was not present for the vote.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu raises the fuel prices and belittles the middle class sector of the population’ was defeated 39-56 with 25 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Exposing the government’s policy by Al Jazeera and the ongoing political deadlock’ was defeated 37-57-1 with 25 MKs not present.
  • National Union’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The continued building freeze in Jerusalem by the government’ was defeated 30-56-5 with 28 MKs not present. Jerusalem resident Speaker Rivlin was present and decided not to participate in the vote. It should be noted this is the first time this term that Speaker Rivlin did not support the government in a no-confidence vote.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Bar Association Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) said that the amendment would temporarily disbar Court Registrars and Judges for the time they serve in those positions. He explained that they would regain their bar licenses automatically after they leave their positions.

The bill passed its second reading 33-1.

The bill passed its third reading 30-0.

Amendment to the Israel Consumer Council Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained that the amendment would privatize the Israel Consumer Council and therefore discontinue government funding.

The bill passed its second reading 29-0.

The bill passed its third reading 27-0.

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Justice, Constitution and Law Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would improve the cooperation among the different ministries’ computers in regards to population information. He said the amendment would also force government seizing authorities’ personnel to receive certification for their job through a training course.

The bill passed its second reading 29-0.

The bill passed its third reading 28-0.

Wednesday’s session lasted five and a half hours. Ten bills were discussed. Four bills advanced after passing their preliminary readings, two bills were turned into motions to avoid defeat, one bill was pulled back and not voted on, and three bills were defeated. Among the bills advanced were one that gives affirmative action in the civil service to Israelis who served three years in the army and one that prohibits cigarette vending machines in public places.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Urgent queries were answered by Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) and Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.).
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked by speeches from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Opposition Leader Livni and Deputy Prime Minister Shalom (Likud). Speaker Rivlin said a few words and acknowledged the only current holocaust survivor member of Knesset, Minister Peled (Likud).
  • Three motions were discussed. A motion on the conclusions of the Turkel Commission was defeated 6-11, a motion on the Al Jazeera leaks was not voted on and a motion on expanding Route 6 southward was passed 3-0 and sent for further discussion in the Finance committee.
  • Five queries were answered at the end of the session by Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.)

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Treatment of Mental Patients Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained that a court sends a mental patient to an institution but the institution decides when to release the patient, as opposed to the court. He explained that his amendment would establish a court release program for mental patients to replace the current system, in which a judge would have to approve the institution’s request to release the patient.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support for this bill, just like the three similar amendments proposed the week before.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 18-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Civil Service Bill

MK Amar (Y.B.) blasted those who desert the army. He explained that his amendment will give an incentive to those who serve their country for three years in the military. He said this bill sends a message to those who serve and to those who don’t serve. He announced his amendment would enforce affirmative action for all civil service appointments to those who served three years in the army. The Israeli-Arab MKs heckled Amar, and Speaker Rivlin called them to order.

The government decided not to take a formal position on the bill, and no minister spoke on the subject.

MK Oron (Meretz) objected to the bill and said that the government should be taking a stand on this bill. He complained that this bill will hurt unfairly those who received an exemption from the army for just causes. He called this a bad bill that is not fair and discriminates against people. He said he was proud of those who desert the army and he calls on all of Israel’s citizens to desert the army. He added he was proud that his family did not serve in the army.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 43-16-1 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

MK Yacimovich (Labor) explained that her amendment would force the national insurance to give money owed to a citizen straight to their bank account instead of going through a middle man. She proposed to try this bill as a test for a year to see its results.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. He said that the bill proposes seven cities to participate in the test and he wishes to raise that number to nine.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 46-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Limitation of Advertising and Marketing of Tobacco Products Bill

MK Ariel (N.U.) explained that his amendment would prohibit the placing of cigarette vending machines in all public places. He said that a person is allowed to smoke in the privacy of his own home, but in public places the government must fight it. He noted that many minors purchase cigarettes from vending machines and this bill will put an end to that as well.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government support for the bill and stressed that private companies can still use cigarette vending machines.

Speaker Rivlin revealed that he smoked for 40 years, from the age of 10 until 50. He praised the bill.

MK Ghilon (Meretz) said that as a smoker he opposes the bill, despite the known dangers of cigarettes. He said that he feels the government has no right to prohibit vending machines in public places. He said the country should stop persecuting smokers. He stressed his belief that this bill won’t stop people from smoking.

MK Ariel suggested Ghilon work with him on a bill that promotes anti-smoking education. He said that bill could go hand-and-hand with this bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 45-1 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Equal Opportunities in Residence Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained that this bill would require equal opportunities to all people who wish to reside in any neighborhood they wish, regardless of age, race, sex, sexual orientation etc. He explained this bill would allow Arabs to live in Jewish-only towns. He said that his bill is in the spirit of the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. the Board of Education and therefore should be accepted. He noted that his ultra-orthodox grandfather lived in Meah Shearim and while he doesn’t expect to live there, he wants to have the right to do so.

Minister Begin (Likud) said that he respects Khenin’s intentions but disagrees with the legislation. He said there is a limitation on the government’s interference in such matters. He expressed government opposition to the bill.

MK Khenin said that he appreciates Ministers Begin, Eitan and Meridor and Speaker Rivlin, who agree with him. Khenin said this is a time for action. MK Ben Ari heckled Khenin and was called to order by Speaker Rivlin. Khenin went on to attack the Rabbis’ decree against selling or renting to Arabs.

The bill was defeated 14-59-1.

Providing Water and Sewage Rate Discounts to Needy Populations Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) asked why there are discounts for city taxes but not for water bills. He demanded that needy people get discounts on their water bill and the ministry should decide who is eligible. He slammed the government for privatizing the water resources of the country.

Speaker Rivlin said that the bill will create a situation that would promote buying votes and he is against any bill that allows a minister to choose who gets a discount on an individual basis.

National Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that if water rates are reduced, electricity will be next, and it won’t be the last. Landau said that the government can’t eliminate all of the poor peoples’ taxes. He noted the real poor people are receiving money and free housing from the government. He corrected Molla by informing him that it was his Kadima government who privatized some of the country’s water resources last term, and it wasn’t done this term. Landau announced that the government is working on a bill that will subsidize the water taxes for certain population groups.

MK Molla told the government to stop justifying themselves by blaming the previous administration. He said that the government has had two years to fix Olmert’s flawed decisions and instead have done nothing.

The bill was defeated 29-47.

Motion/Amendment to the Securities Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained that his amendment would regulate reports by corporations searching for oil and natural gases in order to prevent inflated numbers in the stock market. He said that his amendment will add eleven regulations.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) suggested turning the bill into a motion, given that the government authorities have already started to implement Shai’s bill to the letter.

MK Shai agreed.

The motion passed 47-0-1 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Income Support Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would allow a “deduction rate” for those who have reached retirement age and are eligible to receive a pension under foreign law. She said that 30,000 Russians are not receiving their foreign pensions because they live in Israel and her bill will grant them their full pensions out of the Israeli budget.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that it will cost the country NIS 40 million annually.

The bill was defeated 24-40.

Public Authority Identification Requirement on Official Calls Bill/Motion

MK Ganem (R.T.) explained that many people do not answer calls from blocked numbers. He warned that most public authority clerks and government officials call from blocked numbers and there are people who don’t answer those very important calls. He said that, under his bill, ministries, banks, hospitals and other vital public services would have to reveal their phone numbers when calling.

Bureaucracy Minister Eitan (Likud) praised the intention of the bill but explained that the technical requirements would force all public authorities to spend a lot of money replacing their current switchboard systems. He said it is an important idea and suggested turning the bill into a motion in order to discuss overcoming the technical challenges in the committee. Eitan added that he wants to improve the governments’ service when the citizen wants to call them back and can’t find the person he is looking for.

The motion passed 15-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment has been proposed in each of the previous four terms and has never passed. He announced his amendment would allow the partial absence from work due to the saving of a pregnancy. He said that the national insurance does not pay these pregnant women for the time they miss and his bill will entitle them to that money that they deserve. He agreed, given the government’s opposition to the bill, to pull his bill in order to avoid its defeat.

Tuesday’s session lasted about five hours. The government survived three no-confidence motions from six of the seven opposition parties. The Labor party MKs relished their first no-confidence motion. The no-confidence motions were moved to Tuesday because Monday held the annual mock-Knesset session for high school students. Four bills were discussed Tuesday. Three of them were advanced after passing their first readings and one bill became law after passing its third reading. The highlight bill of the day was one that would temporarily reduce real estate taxes.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu buying power through money and has created a new low in politics’ was defeated 37-52 with 31 MKs not present.
  • The Three Israeli-Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘Government policy encourages racist legislation’ was defeated 29-54 with 37 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Deterioration in Israel’s political status and continuing deepening social gaps’ was defeated 36-52 with 32 MKs not present.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) reported his committee’s decisions on which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees. He also reported that MK Abesadze (Kadima) will replace MK Schneller (Kadima) in the State Comptroller Committee and that MK Katzeleh (N.U.) and MK Danon (Likud) would be added to an education subcommittee.
  • A motion on Negev and Galil Day was discussed by ten MKs and summarized by Negev and Galil Minister Shalom (Likud). The motion passed 13-0 with one MK abstaining and will be discussed further in the plenum.
  • MK Michaeli (Shas) expressed his desire to apply a continuity clause to a bill. It will be reviewed for the next two weeks, and objections may be added.

 

Bills Summary

Temporary Order on the Real-Estate Property Tax Bill

Finance Minister Steinitz explained that his amendment would tackle the housing crisis. He announced the reduction of taxes for those who are looking to fix up multiple apartments that are in their name in order to sell them, but for a limited time only. He said this bill would ease the process for those who wish to acquire an apartment because it would ease the process for those who wish to sell.  He added that people will be able to sell four apartments at once without needing to wait the mandatory cooling-off period in between. He stated this would increase the supply of residential apartments considerably.

MK Shama (Likud) praised the bill and said this bill will lower the prices of real estate when passed. He said the one problem with the bill is that investors might try to buy up the smaller apartments instead of the bigger apartments because of the tax breaks they are receiving across the board. He suggested pushing his bill instead, which is similar but has a clause that would keep the taxes on the smaller apartments high.  This would provide incentive for people to buy up to bigger places and to sell their smaller places, which would then lower the prices of the smaller places in the market.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said this bill is stupid and won’t help anybody. He said it is absurd to think lowering taxes to encourage investors to sell will solve the housing shortage. He said that this is a band-aid and what is really needed is mass construction of houses and not some trick.

MK Ariel (N.U.) said that the finance ministry is causing the problem, not solving it. He stated that 20% of Israel’s annual construction is in Judea and Samaria and the building freeze is raising the housing prices dramatically. He blasted the finance ministry for not using their NIS 12 billion surplus to build more apartments. He blasted the government for raising taxes on gas and raising the prices of public transportation simultaneously.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) offered a practical solution to duplicate former Prime Minister Sharon’s plan when he was housing minister in the beginning of the 1990s. He said that in two years the country built 120,000 homes for all of the Russian immigrants. Katzeleh said that Sharon’s plan is sitting in a drawer and should be taken out and used again.

MK Naffaa (Balad) said the bill is a positive step but does not go far enough. He stressed this bill will help Jews more than Arabs because there is a big shortage of housing in the Arab sector and this bill doesn’t answer that problem.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that the bill won’t create more housing and trusts the market to make the right moves. He said that he doesn’t trust the market and feels the country needs to approve building in the Negev and Galil.

MK Zeev (Shas) said the bill might encourage investors to sell, but it doesn’t help because no one has money to buy the apartments. He suggested that the investors might just switch apartments among each other and call it a day. He said most homeowners are leasing their apartments, and this bill might kick them to the curb. He stated that he expects rents to be raised as a result of this bill.

The bill passed its first reading 35-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

MK Elkin voted from MK Levin’s station by mistake. Speaker Rivlin counted his vote.

Amendment to the State Comptroller Bill

State Comptroller Committee Chairman Yoel Hasson explained that his bill would allow his committee to punish government officials who don’t cooperate with the committee or did not implement the decisions of the committee regarding their government job. He said that today there are several government officials who do not implement the decisions of the committee, which is illegal but in today’s law has no consequence. He said the punishment could include preventing their promotions or assessing fines.

The bill passed its second reading 8-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Hasson thanked his assistants and his committee assistants for helping him with the bill.

Amendment to the Supervision over Schools Bill

Education Committee Chairman MK Miller (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would have the director-general of the education ministry confirm the appointment of all elementary and high school principals in Israel in order to fight the corruption of local authority mayors. He stated that it is a job given to friends in some cases, and he noted a city which has had 12 principals in 12 years.

MK Zeev said that this bill will not prevent unqualified people from being appointed as principals to educate our children. He said this bill will change who is giving the jobs from the mayor to the education ministry. He claimed that there is no way a man in Jerusalem knows who is fit to be a principle for an ultra-orthodox school in Bnei Brak or in an Arab town. He stressed that a principle needs more than a master’s degree to be a good educator.

MK Orlev (J.H.) defended his bill and said that a principal must have a master’s degree. He said the education ministry must determine the criteria of who is fit and also must be able to appoint its own people.

MK Tirosh (Kadima) noted that it won’t be a retroactive bill. She told Zeev not to worry because it will keep the current principals who are unqualified in their positions since the bill only applies to the appointment of future principals.

The bill passed its first reading 7-1 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Tirosh explained her amendment would force cars that transport students to install a front car mirror. She expressed this would reduce the number of child injuries and deaths.

MK Zeev praised the bill and demanded that it also apply to all buses and transport vans.

The bill passed its first reading 4-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

The split of the Labor party and the establishment of the new Independence party piqued the interest of media across the country. Six separate polls were taken to gauge public opinion following the political shake up. All polls were conducted during the week of January 17-20, 2011.

My analysis is simple- it doesn’t matter which poll you are looking at, all of them show Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition maintaining the support of Israel’s citizens. It also presents a dark picture for Ehud Barak and his new Independence party.

Poll #1 was carried out by Channel 10

Poll #2 was carried out by Yediot Achronot (Dahaf)

Poll #3 was carried out by Channel 2

Poll #4 was carried out by Haaretz (Dialog)

Poll #5 was carried out by Maariv (Telesker)

Poll #6 was an alternate poll carried out by Maariv (Telesker)

#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
[27] Likud 30 26 28 32 26
[27] Likud with Barak as #2 in Likud 27
[28] Kadima 27 26 29 30 30
[28] Kadima with Yair Lapid as #2 in Kadima 31
[15] Yisrael Beitenu 17 14 15 15 16 16
[13] Labor 8 9 5 8 8
[11] Shas 10 10 9 11 10 10
[05] Yahadut Hatorah 6 5 6 6
[07] Jewish Home/NRP with Nat’l Union one ticket 6
[04] Nat’l Union 3 3
[03] Jewish Home/NRP 3 4 4
[03] Meretz 5 5 5
[11] Arab parties 9 10 10
[---] Ehud Barak’s Independence Party 3 2 2 2 2 0

Kadima, which today has 28 seats, would receive 27, 26, 29, 30 and 30 seats respectively in the first five polls for a combined range of 26-30 seats. In the alternate poll, Kadima would receive 31 seats with journalist Yair Lapid as their #2.

Likud, which today has 27 seats, would receive 30, 26, 28, 32 and 26 seats respectively in the first five polls for a combined range of 26-30 seats. In the alternate poll, Likud would receive 27 seats with Ehud Barak as their #2.

Yisrael Beitenu, which today has 15 seats, would receive 17, 14, 15, 15 and 16 seats respectively in five polls for a combined range of 14-17 seats.

Shas, which today has 11 seats, would receive 10, 10, 9, 11 and 10 seats respectively in five polls for a combined range of 9-11 seats.

United Torah Judaism, which today has 5 seats, would receive 6, 5 and 6 seats respectively in three polls for a combined range of 5-6 seats.

National Union, which today has 4 seats, would receive 3 seats according to one poll.

Jewish Home, which today has 3 seats, would receive 3 or 4 seats according to two different polls.

If the Jewish Home and National Union ran together they would receive 6 seats according to one poll. Today the parties together have 7 seats.

Meretz, which today has 3 seats, would receive 5 seats in both polls.

The three Arab parties, which today have 11 seats, would receive 9 or 10 seats according to two different polls.

Labor had 13 seats before the split and has 8 seats after it. Without Barak Labor would receive 8, 9, 5 and 8 respectively in the four polls for a combined range of 5-9 seats.

Ehud Barak’s Independence party, which currently has 5 seats, would receive 3, 2, 2, 2, 2 and 2 seats respectively in the first five polls for a combined range of 2-3 seats.

Dialog results:
Number of mandates for the Labor Party if specify who heads the Labor Party:
Yacimovich 10; Mitzne 9; Herzog 8; Braverman 5

Teleseker results:
Who is most appropriate to be the head of the Labor Party?
Herzog 19.9%; Mitzne 16.2%; Yacimovich 18.8%; Peretz 5.2%; Braverman 4.3%; Einy 3.9%; None of the above 14.9%; Don’t know 16.7%

Wednesday’s session lasted about eight hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced, one was turned into a motion and two delayed their vote in order to avoid defeat, while five bills were defeated. A recycling bill was passed in its third reading. The main event of the idea was the swearing in of the new government. Three ministers resigned, two deputy ministers were promoted to ministers, and two ministers received promotions through additional ministerial responsibilities. The long discussion on the changes in the government overshadowed the bills discussed earlier in the day. The changes in the government were approved 53-40 with 27 MKs not present for the vote. Seven Kadima MKs were removed from the plenum after spraying air freshener cans to protest the “stinky” deal in which the Labor party’s 13 seats split. Defense Minister Barak created the Independence party with five MKs, including himself, leaving Labor with eight MKs. Independence will remain in the coalition and Labor will head to the opposition. Netanyahu’s majority shrinks from 74 to 66, while the opposition strengthens its numbers from 46 to 54.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session. Vilnai would become part of the new Independence faction at the end of the session.
  • Five of the six motions discussed were passed by the votes 8-0, 10-1, 6-0, 10-0 and 7-0. One motion was defeated 2-8.

 

Bills Summary

Three Amendments to the Treatment of Mental Patients Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that a court sends a mental patient to an institution but the institution decides when to release the patient, as opposed to the court. He explained that his amendment would establish a court release program for mental patients to replace the current system.

MK Azoulay (Shas) complained about the current situation where the judge sends the patient to the institution but has no power to keep him there or ask for his release. He explained that his similar amendment would inform the judge who sent the patient to an institution when he is released.

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) blasted the current system where the institution has power to decide whether a patient is fit to be released without the court’s position. She explained that her amendment is similar to Orlev’s and Azoulay’s and asked the Knesset to approve her bill as well.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support for all three of the bills. He stated that MK Levy-Abekasis passed a similar bill earlier in the month. He noted that all of the bills will be merged into one bill in the committee.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 25-0.

The second bill passed its preliminary reading 32-0.

The third bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0.

The three bills were merged and sent to the Health Committee.

Speaker Rivlin wished Minister Peled a happy 70th birthday.

Amendment to the Water and Sewage Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained that his amendment will prohibit the cancellation of self-run water and sewage services. He complained that the water reform will cost the public millions of shekels for no reason. He explained that his bill would allow each mayor to decide if they want a self-run water and sewage service or if they prefer a government one. He noted the several mayors in the audience that day who will derail any attempt to force upon them an arrangement they don’t accept. Bielski agreed to postpone voting for the bill in order to gain government support.

Amendment to the City Unions Bill

MK Danon (Likud) explained that his amendment would expand the powers of city unions’ recycling programs.

Speaker Rivlin said he would not wait for the minister to return and would go to a vote immediately.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 25-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill (Adjustment to the Basic Law: Knesset)

MK Levin (Likud) explained that his amendment will move certain paragraphs from the Knesset Bill to the Basic Law: Knesset, and therefore strengthen them.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill. He said that he approves strengthening the Basic Law: Knesset, and questioned the need for a regular Knesset Bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 37-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Prohibition of Kosher Fraud Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained that his amendment would prohibit the Supreme Court from ruling on the considerations of what is considered to be kosher enough for a rabbinate supervision certificate. He blasted the Supreme Court and said that the rabbis will decide what kosher is and will not allow some judge to overrule those decisions. He explained that Israel’s Chief Rabbi Amar requested this bill. He stated it was important to keep the definitions of what is kosher within the rabbinate.

Speaker Rivlin said that, as a traditional person and someone who respects religion and tries to keep kosher, he’d like Katzeleh to delay the vote on the bill in order to win over government support. Speaker Rivlin suggested that the bill not be brought up for a vote today and defeated. Katzeleh agreed to postpone the vote on the bill for one week.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Sarsur (R.T.) complained that national health insurance is not free because all citizens pay a regressive health tax that is taken from their paycheck.  He blasted the high cost of specialist doctors and the fact that several patients must pay for at least part of their surgeries. He explained that his amendment would give patients a full refund for services they must seek elsewhere when the national health clinics are closed on the Sabbath and holidays.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman asked to turn the bill into a motion. Sarsur rejected the option. Litzman said that the budget needed for this bill is enormous and that the government and his ministry have no money to implement it and are therefore against it.

The bill was defeated 16-39.

Amendment to the Dying Patient Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment would allow a doctor to write a prescription of death if requested to do so by the patient. He explained further that the bill would prohibit the doctor from making an active effort to extend the life of a person who is on life support or on breathing or feeding tubes beyond a six month period if such a prescription is written. He said that the bill might present a moral dilemma, but if a person is suffering and they are going to die anyway, why not allow them to die peacefully and with respect. He noted that this bill passed in the United States 14 years ago and that an average of only 60 people per year exercise their right to die. He called this bill a responsible solution to a big problem that has no other solutions.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman said the original bill is very delicate and represents a consensus from most of the parties in the Knesset. Litzman explained that allowing a doctor to write a prescription of death is something that 48 states in America do not offer. He noted that only Washington and Oregon have such a law and that the bill has been actively opposed in over 20 states.

MK Oron charged that Litzman is against the bill because it is against Jewish law. He said that he wonders how long the country can stand with two separate value systems.

The bill was defeated 16-48-2.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained that his amendment would force the clinics to send the 17 Transfer Form (hitchayvut, or agreement to pay) directly to the hospitals that provide the services. He said that this bill will ease the bureaucracy on the citizen. He said that in an age when everything is computerized there is no reason not to simplify things.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman said that he agrees with the intentions of the bill but there is no reason to pass a bill on the subject. He informed that he already made a provision on this and his ministry will implement the change by the end of 2013.

MK Sheetrit said if Litzman agrees with the intentions of the bill he should support the bill. Litzman suggested a motion, but Sheetrit rejected the suggestion and demanded it pass as a bill.

The bill was defeated 20-43.

Requirement on Reporting Financial Institutions and Unclaimed Money Bill

MK Sheetrit said many people are entitled to money they inherited but have no clue that the money is waiting for them. He said that in the United States, Britain and France a free website exists which allows people to search for their families’ inheritance. He said that right now there is approximately NIS 15-25 billion sitting in the government vault that belongs to the public and something must be done to allow the citizens to claim the money that is rightfully theirs.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) said that Sheetrit is bringing up a real problem that needs a real solution. He said that the solution Sheetrit is offering will harm the privacy and confidentiality of the families. He stated that the Security Authority is responsible for finding those who inherit the money if the account has not been accessed after ten years and they are not allowed to take any of that money. He said his ministry has created a situation that motivates the Authority to find the owners of the accounts.

MK Sheetrit said that the finance ministry has lowered the earning of those who manage the accounts from 0.6% to 0.25%, and that it is not a worthwhile enticement to locate the rightful owners. Sheetrit suggested that, if Steinitz agreed with him on the problem and is not offering a solution, perhaps the government should support the bill. He said that today there is no incentive for those who are managing the accounts to ever report the accounts or find their rightful owners.

The bill was defeated 21-43.

Civil Service Bill

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) explained that his original bill would force the ultra-orthodox to serve in the military or in the civil service. He predicted the countless protests across the country over the last week against the ultra-orthodox community who refuse to be drafted are only the beginning. He warned that Israeli society will not tolerate the current situation much longer. He warned that the demographics present a fear that a majority of Israelis will be ultra-orthodox or Arab and therefore not serve in the army. He said that only 4% of the population does more than 4 days of reserve duty per year, which represents 1 in 22 people. He slammed the Israeli-Arab leaders for shunning Arab youth who join the civil service. He blasted the ultra-orthodox for keeping their community from integrating into Israeli society. He said that he is ashamed that there are leftists who get out of army duty.  He called on all of Israel’s citizens to serve the country in some way. He called on the MKs to send a message by supporting his bill.

Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) said that he personally believes that serving in the army is not an option but a must. He stated that he served in the army and all of his children did as well. He said that it is a very delicate matter that can’t be dealt with as an MK bill and needs to be dealt with as a government bill. He said the government bill that will be proposed on the subject has over 90 paragraphs and is wide spread and not up for interpretation. He criticized the current bill as being too short and simple. He warned it would cause violent unrest from the Arabs, ultra-orthodox and national religious women and said therefore the government is against this bill.

MK Hasson said that the government is stubborn and insensitive toward the citizens that do serve their country by allowing bureaucratic obstacles to prevent others from joining them. He attacked Defense Minister Barak and said that the position of defense minister is a right and not a job. He promised to bring the bill again in six months after it is defeated today. He went on to spend the next five minutes screaming at Defense Minister Barak, whose response was one long smirk.

The bill was defeated 22-61.

Motion/Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Bielski discussed the tragedy of road deaths for several minutes. He noted that many of the dead were riding motorcycles. He explained that his amendment would allow motorcycles in public transportation lanes.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) said that the government opposed the bill on the grounds that there is no need to take a small thing and turn it into legislation. He said he was willing to turn the bill into a motion and see what can be done to advance the idea. He expressed hope that this would change citizens’ day to day routines and make our country greener. He thanked the sponsor of the bill, Bielski, who has worked on this bill for over a year.

MK Bielski agreed.

The motion passed 47-1 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Regulating the Treatment Packages Bill

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) explained that his bill would increase the number of cities that participate in recycling programs and create recycling centers that will create new jobs. He explained that the bill would also force all factories to recycle what they can and will bring private recycling bins to citizens’ homes in certain cities.

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) said his bill will force all industries to recycle items that can be recycled. He hoped that a new recycling market will create several new companies and jobs. He noted that the bill will start to take effect in 2015 and will conclude by 2020. He went on to discuss for fifteen minutes the technicalities of the bill. He asked the Knesset to vote for his two objections and for the bill.

Environment Minister Erdan expressed government support for the objections in the bill.

The objections were passed 9-0 and 9-0.

The bills paragraphs passed their second readings 9-0, 9-0, 9-0, 9-0, 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Government announcement on cessation of service of cabinet ministers, the expiry of tenure of deputy ministers, government ministers join the distribution and changes in government functions

Environment Minister Erdan stated that Labor ministers Industry and Trade Minister Ben Eliezer, Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog and Minority Affairs Minister Braverman resigned on Monday and their resignation went into effect 48 hours later, which is today (Wednesday). He stated that former Labor MKs Agriculture Minister Simhon, Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai and Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked have left their positions. He explained that all together four ministers and two deputy ministers will no longer remain in the offices in which they sat since the government was formed at the beginning of the term. Erdan went on to announce that the two former deputy ministers Vilnai and Noked would be promoted to ministers and Simhon would be promoted to a different portfolio. The new positions are Industry and Trade Minister and Minorities Minister Simhon (Independence), Homefront Command Minister Vilnai (Independence) and Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence). In addition, Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) will be the new Labor and Welfare Minister as well. He concluded by announcing that Defense Minister Barak (Independence) will remain in his position.

MK Sheetrit called this the blackest week in Knesset that he has experienced in his 30 years as an MK. He stated that coalition MKs are taking anti-nausea medication so they can stomach voting for the new government. He said that Barak has run away again and that the 5 Independence MKs are dead politically. He asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop the madness in which there are more ministers and deputy ministers than coalition MKs and there is no separation of powers between the legislators and the executive branch. Sheetrit concluded by calling on Netanyahu to call for new elections and to go home.

MK Oron said that no coalitions MKs are present because the coalitions MKs are embarrassed. He asked why Barak would leave his party to stay defense minister. He stated that if Barak’s discretion within the party is this bad, his discretion as defense minister must be worse, and it will be hard for him (Oron) to sleep at night. Oron said that at least the opposition grew today in the numbers and that the bluffs are off the table.

MK Ghilon (Meretz) said that in his experience in politics anything is possible, even this. He said that the public doesn’t care about this trick and they really don’t care who the old or the new agriculture minister is. He wondered if the apathy could help bring a new alternative that would start with the separation of church from state and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) said that the evil racist government has no shame. She said this deal’s stench does not reach Shalom, Matan, Orit, Einat and Ehud, who now have assured their job security for the next year, but the stench reaches everyone else. She said that the extremist right-wing fringe government is sick and unfortunately not just a bad joke. She warned that Barak’s corrupt bargain is political suicide. She asked Minister Meridor where he is hiding today. She concluded that the price of this government is too high and it must be stopped at once.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said that no one needs to be a political analyst to see that when a party of five seats receives four ministries there is corruption in the air. He said that the Independence Party is hurting the Knesset’s standing and is an utter embarrassment. He said the voters of Labor feel that Barak sold their votes for nothing. He said that Defense Minister Barak no longer has integrity and can’t lead Israel in a war and must resign at once. He concluded by thanking Barak for finally taking Labor out of the government.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said that all the masks are off. He stated that the leader of the peace camp and the one joined the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, has shown his real face for the first time in his political career. He called Barak the biggest opportunist in political history and laughed that in a year he might no longer be in the chair he enjoys so much.

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said that Barak only cares about his personal interests and his chair and that is why he has been sucking up to Netanyahu. She blasted the increase of the government’s indirect taxes. She said Barak is not a leader but a “jobnick”.

MK Shai (Kadima) said that the four MKs who went with Barak won the lottery and will receive pay bonuses and bigger offices. He warned that the rest of the MKs and the country have lost.

MK Katzeleh said that he doesn’t blame Barak for this trick but he does blame Netanyahu. He asked Netanyahu why he raised the flag of the right and went to the Labor party. He called on Netanyahu to ditch the Independence party and bring the National Union party into the coalition and create a real right-wing government. He noted that 40,000 Jerusalem people are living in garages and storage rooms waiting for the building in Jerusalem to resume. He slammed Netanyahu and told him if he returned to the army today no one would follow him because he has no integrity and is not trustworthy.

MK Boim (Kadima) said he didn’t believe that Netanyahu supported the Sheshinski Committee because that was the first smart decision Netanyahu has made since he was elected Prime Minister. He blasted Netanyahu for spending most of his time dealing with politics instead of action. He said that the Labor party received independence from Barak as their chairman, Barak received independence from the title of the leader of the peace camp, Netanyahu received independence from his Bar Ilan speech, in which he agreed to a Palestinian state, and Abu Mazen received independence.

MK Molla (Kadima) blasted the “stinky deal of 2011”. He said that Barak ran away and is a deserter. He called on the military police to arrest the defense minister for running away from the left and joining the right. He said that Barak prefers an extremist right-wing government with Lieberman to the Labor party. He called the Independence party a stinky party and a Bibi-job party. He laughed that their chairperson is an MK who entered the Knesset less than a year ago and is on maternity leave. He blasted Barak for accepting Katzeleh’s policies and called on purifying the government. Deputy Speaker Akunis (Likud) suggested that Molla explain himself and Molla indicated that he misspoke.

MK Zahalka (Balad) said the evolution of the Israeli political parties is an interesting subject. He noted how the Labor party has moved around over the years. He wondered if there would be another split in the Labor party and some MKs would join Kadima. He said that he isn’t shedding any tears for Labor’s collapse. He concluded by mocking Minister Kahlon.

MK Eldad (N.U.) recalled the Labor party primary between Barak and Ami Ayalon in which the Arab vote was the deciding factor that gave Barak his victory. He accused Barak of blackmailing the leaders of Arab towns. He said there is no other reason why over 90% of the Arabs voted for Barak. He concluded that Barak is a dirty politician who will do anything to stay in power.

MK Yisrael Hasson said that Netanyahu took the symbol of the party that built the country and the symbol of one of Israel’s biggest heroes and buried them in a donkey’s grave.

MK Yoel Hasson said that he didn’t believe Barak and Netanyahu would do such a thing, and thought it was some pre-April fool’s joke when he first heard of the deal. He said Barak and Netanyahu are the architects of destruction, lies, survival and the end of democracy as we know it. He suggested that the coalition stop, shut up and go out to the street and ask people what they think of it. He said the government is causing its citizens to throw up. He warned that good citizens are running away from politics. He called Barak an opportunist, desperate and willing to do anything to keep his seat. He concluded Barak is not a leader but a joke.

MK Ben Simon (Labor) said that the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak government is finally complete because Barak has finally found himself. He thanked Barak for leaving and enabling the Labor party voters to come home. He said that Barak has only brought negativity to everyone around him.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) quoted Ben Gurion, who said that all of biblical Israel that is under Israeli control may not be given away to anybody. He called on the Independence party to return to Ben Gurion’s ways. He blasted Kadima for creating the loophole that the Independence party used and for denying it.

MK Cabel (Labor) said the shehechiyanu blessing (blessing for new things). He told the Likud that Barak is all theirs, a free present without tax. He said he has been waiting for this day for two years, a day where the capitalistic Barak who lives in the exclusive Akirov Towers is finally gone. He said that today he is no longer a rebel, and he is finally home, at least for now.

MK Abesadze (Kadima) said that the three musketeers of Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak is a catastrophe. She called on Netanyahu to forget Iran and look within for once and to stop being removed from society.

MK Naffaa (Balad) said that there is racism in this government and he fears today the racist government will get stronger.

MK Braverman (Labor) said Barak has named Lieberman the de-facto prime minister of Israel. He said the government has lost its moral right to exist and will cease to exist soon. MK Avraham Balila heckled former minister Braverman, and Deputy Speaker Majadele almost threw her out after calling her to order. He thanked Netanyahu for allowing him to succeed in his post of minister of minority affairs. He concluded by saying that he believes in the future of the Labor party.

MK Peretz (Labor) said this would be the shortest speech of his life. He thanked Ehud Barak for showing Israel what corruption really is and stepped down from the podium.

MK Whbee (Kadima) said the government is corrupt. He said he doesn’t understand how a party of five seats can receive four ministries and a committee chairmanship. He noted that the coalition agreement that was signed with the 13 Labor MKs two years ago was copied and became the agreement for 5 MKs. Whbee said he can’t wait until Lieberman decides to resign and bring down the government.

MK Herzog (Labor) said he was overwhelmed with emotion on the day he was leaving his ministry. He said Barak is no Ben Gurion or Sharon. He suggested disbelievers should avoid eulogizing the Labor party and instead watch it rise once again. He said he will offer a socialist alternative to Barak and will win. He said he understands the challenge and accepts it. He wished his replacement Minister Kahlon luck on his new job.

MK Zeev (Shas) was the only coalition MK to speak. He said that in divorce court, both parties think they got the better deal when the divorce is final. He suggested that the Labor and Independence parties are both better off divorced than they were together. Zeev said that Barak showed leadership by staying in the coalition instead of giving in to his party’s demands. He said that he opposes all of the previous speakers who have spread hatred with their speeches. He asked from the bottom of his heart for the MKs to stop the incitement because we are people before we are politicians.

MK Plesner (Kadima) tried to begin his speech, but Minister Erdan heckled him. Deputy Speaker Majadele told Erdan to be quiet, but Erdan refused. MK Ben Ari got in on the action and was removed from the plenum as Deputy Speaker Majadele announced he was a proud Palestinian Israeli. Pandemonium broke out in the plenum. After a few minutes order returned.

Plesner began his speech by attacking Erdan, Labor, Barak, Independence, Likud, Lieberman, Yishai and the entire government. He eulogized the Labor party and called this discussion its funeral. He stated that Barak’s embarrassment is forcing Ben Gurion, Eshkol and Meir to turn in their graves. He charged that Netanyahu bought five seats in a corrupt bargain. He said there are two alternatives to this government Lieberman-Yishai or Kadima.

MK Ariel (N.U.) asked individually each minister present- Katz, Eitan, Margi, Neeman and others- why they are supporting Barak freezing the building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. He called the government a circus that is led by the ringmaster Netanyahu. He blasted Netanyahu for promising right and going left. He said Netanyahu’s yes men have their time limited because we are going to elections, and the only question left is when.

Environment Minister Erdan blasted Deputy Speaker Majadele, which caused pandemonium once again. Speaker Rivlin took control of the discussion and regained order. Erdan assured the opposition that the government will finish out the term as expected. He said the Likud has done more for the country than Kadima ever has or ever will. He called Kadima the refugees of Likud and Labor. Screaming and shouting started, and Speaker Rivlin restored order. Erdan said that Kadima is undemocratic and was founded when Sharon left the Likud and took the refugees from various parties. Screaming and shouting resumed, and Speaker Rivlin restored order. Erdan said that Barak has done more for the country than Yoel Hasson ever will. He said that the Likud never bashed Tzippi Livni for leaving the Likud and he expected Kadima to show some respect and dignity. He said the one thing that Kadima has going for them is that the press loves them. He warned Kadima they shouldn’t talk about morals because they created most of the country’s problems and the Likud is trying to fix them. Pandemonium broke out after his speech, and Speaker Rivlin took a few minutes to quiet the opposition before he started the vote.

The changes in the government were approved 53-40.

Oath of office of members of the government

At least seven Kadima MKs opened up air freshener cans and sprayed the plenum in protest of the “stinky” deal, and they were all forcefully removed from the plenum. There could have been more than seven who sprayed, but it is hard to tell because all of the Kadima MKs left the plenum to boycott the ceremony with those who were thrown out. The seven removed were MKs Yoel Hasson, Shai, Molla, Zuaretz, Abesadze, Hermesh and Whbee. Netanyahu laughed at the spectacle. Speaker Rivlin screamed at the MKs and called them an embarrassment to democracy.

Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) was sworn in to her new position and received kisses from Speaker Rivlin and Barak following the ceremony.

Home Front Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) was sworn in to his new position and received hugs from Speaker Rivlin and Barak.

Speaker Rivlin called for a two minute recess to allow Noked and Vilnai to receive hugs and kisses from coalition member MKs and ministers.

Tuesday’s session lasted two hours and forty five minutes. Five bills were discussed, and they were all advanced after passing their first readings. Among the bills were a bill that would limit the purchase and transfer of Israel’s land rights to foreigners and a bill that would force all telecommunications and broadcasting companies to offer a free parent lock to block malicious web sites.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 14 MKs participated in the one-minute speech segment.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted World WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization), who marked 90 years of activity. A motion on the subject was discussed by two MKs.
  • Two motions were discussed by a combined four MKs at the end of the session. Both motions were passed and sent for further discussion in the Knesset committees by the votes 8-0 and 5-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Youth Bill

MK Levy-Abekasis (Y.B.) explained that her amendment would offer both care and supervision of minors who commit a crime by protecting them against harmful publications about crimes they committed or private information that can be found on the internet.

MK Molla (Kadima) said that the bill was important and he supported it but wondered which minister would enforce this bill. He went on to slam the government for five minutes. Speaker Rivlin asked Molla to step down from the podium if he supports the bill and plans on criticizing the government in the time he has left.

MK Ghilon (Meretz) said he supported the bill, even though it comes from the party that he despises the most.

MK Zeev (Shas) said he supported the bill. He gave an example of four yeshiva students who were wrongly named on an internet site as criminals and now will not be accepted into the army. He hoped this bill would change these things.

The bill passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Land Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained that an apartment may run a Shabbat elevator if a simple majority, or 51%, of the residents wish to have one. He informed that this will force the 49% of the building that do not want to use the Shabbat elevator to use it, but they will be exempt from paying for it. He noted countless court cases on the subject and said he felt this was the best solution. He said he hopes that this will encourage religious people to move into buildings with secular people.

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) said that he has objected to the bill for eight months and after countless compromises in the committee he feels good with the bill.

MK Zeev said the bill doesn’t go far enough and suggested demanding that all the residents of the building pay for the Shabbat elevator, just like they have to pay for other things they don’t necessarily want in their building.

The bill passed its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Israel Lands Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained that his amendment would limit the purchase and transfer of Israel’s land rights to foreigners. He informed the plenum that the Israel land reform created an atmosphere where foreigners were able to come in and buy up large packages of Israeli land, and his bill will place certain restrictions on foreigners doing so. He noted that several democratic countries, including practically all of Europe, have passed this very bill in the past few years. He said that many foreigners own property in Israel and do not live here, thereby increasing the housing shortage. He stated that the bill would not violate any international agreements that Israel has signed.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) informed that it is not just residential, but tens of thousands of agricultural dunams have been bought up by foreigners as well, particularly in Zikhron Ya’akov and Binyamina. He called on the government to investigate these occurrences. He stated that with the illegal immigrants and these foreigners closing in on us, Israel’s Jews are running out of land.

MK Ariel (N.U.) blasted the housing shortage and crisis. He revealed that he proposed a similar bill earlier in the term that did not receive government support. He called the trouble in the Labor party a circus. He attacked MKs who promise one thing before elections and do the complete opposite when they are elected. He slammed Kadima and Sharon as the ones who started the business of splitting up parties. He said that he hopes the circus leaves town soon.

MK Molla reminded Ariel that after the split between Kadima and Likud, Prime Minister Sharon called elections and the public gave Kadima 29 seats and the Likud 12. Ariel and Katzeleh walked out as Molla was talking. Molla went on to make excuses for Sharon and concluded by expressing his support for the bill.

MK Eldad (N.U.) mocked Molla at the beginning of his speech and called him a sour pickle. Eldad said that he supports the bill and the supervision of selling property to foreigners. He suggested looking at Jerusalem as the top priority of the bill and stopping the Saudi prince from buying up new Jewish neighborhoods.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) stated that the sin of privatizing the land of Israel has brought upon Israel this disaster of foreigners buying it up. She said that this bill was born as a band aid to try to slowly avoid the inevitable end of Zionism, which the privatization created. She expressed support for the bill and hope that this search and rescue mission is successful but said she remained pessimistic.

MK Zeev slammed the P.A. for passing a law that says that any Palestinian who sells land to a Jew will be sentenced to death. He also blasted former Likud politician Dov Weissglass for assisting Abu Dhabi citizens in buying up Jewish apartments in the old city of Jerusalem. He called Palestine and Saudi Arabia enemies that must be fought in the realm of this bill and many other bills to come.

The bill passed its first reading 16-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Communications Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) said that this bill was the most important bill he has brought in front of the Knesset this term. He explained his amendment would force all telecommunications and broadcasting companies to offer a free parent lock to block malicious web sites and content from children. He said that right now there are parent locks, but they cost money, and this bill will force the companies to give it to their customers as a free service. He expressed hope that this bill, when passed, will protect children from malicious content.

MK Ariel said that as a father he supports the bill that brings order to the jungle we call the internet. He said he hopes this bill keeps the bad animals in the jungle and allows our children to surf without worries. He praised Miller for presenting a medication to the disease called the internet.

MK Katzeleh said that he feels that it is a good bill but that it should also apply to radio. He said that radio shows incite racism against religious people, immigrants, nationalistic people and settlers. He expressed fear that the youth will be influenced by such things and will act violently against Israel’s minorities. He blasted radio journalist Moshe Hanegbi. He called on the public to send him emails at katzya@knesset.gov.il about Hanegbi, and he will read them out every week from the Knesset podium.

MK Zeev blasted television and its slutty reality television shows. He said that television is a drug and it is worse than the internet. He said that it is harder to recover from television and the internet than alcohol. He expressed regret that this legislation will not do enough because children will find a way to get around the parental controls. He called on Israel to show some principles and morals instead of watching terrible television shows. He concluded by slamming Facebook, which is not included in the parent block.

MK Eldad said that just by going to a news website one can find a slutty advertisement. He went on to blast the government for not arresting those who incite to kill him and instead selectively choose to arrest those who wish to kill left-wing figures. He asked how a person who tells him that he wants to shoot him in front of his kids can be allowed to walk freely, but someone who posts a youtube video is arrested.

The bill passed its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Career Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces Service Bill

The following was presented the previous Tuesday and brought for a vote today.

“MK Schneller (Kadima) explained that his amendment would allow career soldiers the benefits they are entitled to by the government security industries. He gave an example of a computer specialist who worked in the army for twenty years and realizes that if he works privately after he retires he will pay very high taxes and barely make any money. He said those talented people go overseas instead. He stated that this bill would prevent that very situation. He said that because the government was opposing the bill, even though they supported it in its preliminary reading, he would not request a vote on it.”

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Monday’s session lasted five hours and fifteen minutes. Eight bills were discussed. Seven bills became law after passing their third readings. One bill was advanced after passing its first reading. The new laws included extensions for allowing Israelis to be drafted as policemen and prison guards instead of soldiers.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu isolated Israel in a series of political actions and omissions’ was defeated 34-51-1.
  • The three Israeli Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘Planning and Building in Arab communities’ was defeated 29-54.
  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized former MK David Coren, a Labor MK from 1969-1977.
  • The Government announcement on the transfer of powers surrounding Israel’s firefighters from Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) to Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch was discussed by six MKs and approved 29-4.
  • The Government request to extend the validity of the temporary order of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Bill was approved 28-9.
  • Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) outlined the decision of his committee to correct a technical change in the Amendment of the Children Adoption Bill. It was approved 8-0.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman MK Mofaz (Kadima) informed the plenum that in 2005 the government made a decision to move all of the military prisons which hold security prisoners (such as Ofer and Kesiot) from the military to prison services. This caused a manpower issue, which was solved by a temporary order allowing the placement of soldiers into the prison service as part of their mandatory military service for five years until the end of 2010. Mofaz said that his committee wishes to extend this temporary order for another year. Meretz announced they would oppose the bill, but did not explain why.

The bill passed its second reading 38-3.

The bill passed its third reading 39-2.

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman MK Mofaz explained that his temporary order would allow the placement of soldiers into the police service as part of their mandatory military service. He said police manpower is very low and they need increased “bodies”. He explained that the temporary order will extend this arrangement for another six months.

The bill passed its second reading 35-1.

The bill passed its third reading 31-1.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that this bill was part of the Arrangements Bill. He said the bill would change the tax exemptions given to employers who hire college students to do research and tax exemptions on scholarships given to college students.

The bill passed its second reading 20-0.

The bill passed its third reading 20-0.

Amendment to the Streamlining the Enforcement Process of the Securities Authority Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni said that this bill was the biggest bill his committee has received this year, even bigger than the Arrangements Bill. He explained that the bill will bring an entire reform to the Securities Authority.

MK Oron said he was worried that the bill would violate citizens’ basic rights but hopes that the committee found a good balance. He praised Gafni for working together with the opposition on this bill and others in order to show wall-to-wall support on these important bills.

The bill passed its second reading 25-0.

The bill passed its third reading 27-0.

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni explained that it was difficult to pass such a big bill without any opposition.  He thanked his assistants and the committee assistants for helping him get there.

Amendment to the Economic Efficiency Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Katz explained that the amendment on the implementation of the economic program for 2009 and 2010 would allow citizens to place money in older provident funds for another year.

The bill passed its second reading 26-0.

The bill passed its third reading 24-0.

Amendment to the Prison Service Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained that the amendment would prevent a security prisoner from meeting with a lawyer when it is suspected that the prisoner will use that meeting to compromise national security or cause rioting within the prison. He explained that certain lawyers are messengers of terrorist organizations and they use loopholes in order to meet and conspire with the jailed security prisoners.

MK Khenin (Hadash) objected to the bill and said that meeting a lawyer is not a privilege but a right, and without it there is no justice system. He criticized the fact that in certain situations a judge can extend this clause and prevent a prisoner from seeing a lawyer for six months. He said that this bill seriously questions the legitimacy of the Israeli justice system.

The bill passed its first reading 16-4 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Contracts Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would change the law to overrule a Supreme Court ruling that allows one to read a contract in two different ways.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Levin (Likud) said that he was proud to sponsor a bill that clarifies the law and overrules a pointless Supreme Court ruling. He thanked his assistants and co-sponsors and the MKs who approved the bill.

Amendment to the Municipal Taxes and the Government Taxes Ordinance Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his amendment would provide a tax exemption for youth hostels and field schools. He went on to thank the lobbyists who brought this bill to him and his assistants.

The bill passed its second reading 4-0.

The bill passed its third reading 6-0.

Last Wednesday’s session lasted about five hours. Eleven bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, two bills were pulled in order to avoid defeat and four bills were defeated. The bills advanced dealt with alcoholic beverage recycling labels, the considerations for releasing mentally ill patients, adding the army’s chief rabbi to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Council and recognizing Jerusalem as a priority “A” area.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) and Culture and Sports Minister Livnat (Likud) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • MK Rotem announced the House Committee’s decisions about which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees.
  • A motion on the Government exempting haredim from the army was discussed by 14 MKs. The opposition MKs’ proposals on the motion were defeated 10-29, 11-26-2 and 11-29. The coalition proposal was accepted 24-10.
  • Two other motions were discussed. Two Shas MKs discussed Minister Yishai’s lynching by Ahuva Tomer’s life partner. That motion was not voted on. Five MKs discussed the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel; the motion was defeated 1-5.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Compensation on Recycling Beverage Containers Bill

MK Vaknin (Shas) explained that his amendment is a technical change that would delay the increase of the recycling refund of alcoholic beverages from 25 agurot to 30 agurot for labels that were printed before the bill passed and that would give the companies an extra six months to sell their merchandise at the 25 agurot rate.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) expressed government support and praised the bill.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) objected to the bill and said that the companies shouldn’t get an extra six months to rip off the public. He attacked the companies for refusing to include all bottles in the recycling refund bill. He noted that when the bill passed in April no one thought they would ask for more extensions. Horowitz pondered if this would be the last extension.

MK Vaknin said that Horowitz didn’t understand the bill. He explained that no matter what the public will receive 30 agurot per bottle. He informed the technical change is that the label may remain with a 25 agurot symbol for another six months. He said there is no reason to force the companies to waste money on changing the labels.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 32-2 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Treatment of Mental Patients Bill

MK Regev (Likud) explained that her amendment would make stricter the considerations for the release of mentally ill patients who are hospitalized because of violent acts and those who have been committed as mentally ill patients by a court order sentence. She hoped that this bill would prevent violent mentally ill people from attacking others.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 44-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Elections Bill

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) explained that his amendment would prevent election fraud by printing a barcode on each voting slip. He quoted Churchill, who said that democracy is not perfect, but it is the best way to govern. Tiviaev suggested that the act of giving people their voting slips before they show up to the polls reminds him of a dictatorship. He slammed Yisrael Beitenu and Shas for finding the cracks in the Israeli system and suggested that they are the parties that are trying to defeat this bill.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said that he and the government object to the bill. He said that the assumption behind the bill insults the intelligence of the voters.

MK Tiviaev said that we need order to protect our democracy. He charged that the voting fraud of giving people their voting slips before they vote is widespread and illegal. He said that he is open to other solutions, but the voting fraud must be abolished.

The bill was defeated 27-38.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained that his amendment would give senior citizens an exemption from paying capital gains tax and tax on provident funds. He said that the current system is simply highway robbery of the elderly. He told stories of people who lost money in the stock market because they felt the banks were not giving them enough interest. He said that today no one takes a provident fund because it is no longer financially worthwhile and instead are keeping their money in dollars overseas.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) expressed government opposition to the bill. He explained that the government budgets 10 billion NIS for provident funds and that it is not a sin to tax them a little. He said that he is willing to try and meet Sheetrit halfway on the exemption from capital gains tax and asked Sheetrit to postpone the bill for three months so they can discuss it further.

MK Sheetrit agreed to delay the vote for three months.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Agbaria (Hadash) explained that his amendment would entitle every citizen to vaccinations against all infectious diseases at no charge. He noted that the payment expected for chicken pox shots is very high and that results in 60-70% of the population not getting vaccinated.

Transportation Minister Katz noted that all children born after January 1, 2007, have been vaccinated for most infectious diseases at no charge and that it is a felony to not receive those vaccinations. He noted that other vaccinations are offered at a very low cost. He stated that there is no budget to vaccinate those who are older.

MK Agbaria complained that the government won’t even vaccinate chicken pox. He asked to turn the bill into a motion and discuss the matter in the Health Committee. His request was rejected.

The bill was defeated 20-39.

Amendment to the Prohibition of Kosher Fraud Bill

MK Horowitz stated that he is against religion, Judaism, kashrut and the religious ministry. He explained that his amendment would require supervision and control the prices on kosher certificates. He said that there is a monopoly that entitles the kashrut companies to constantly raise their prices for certificates. He said that he hates kashrut but feels he needs to present this bill for store owners who are being robbed. He also asked that the kosher supervising companies not be allowed to require store owners to buy kosher products that are more expensive.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) said that the bill was presented without doing homework. He explained that currently the Finance Committee supervises the kosher certificates. He stated that because there is Knesset supervision and control of the prices on kosher certificates, there is no reason to pass the bill.

MK Horowitz explained that his amendment would allow the chief rabbi to revoke kosher certificates and place fines on high prices. He stated that experts came up with this bill and that the minister doesn’t understand his bill.

The bill was defeated 12-40.

Amendment to the Water and Sewage Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained that her amendment would provide an exemption to the VAT on the water rates. She said that raising the water taxes is one thing but double taxation through the VAT is another. She screamed at Netanyahu for not doing anything. She warned that people will start protesting soon and that it might spin out of control. Likud ministers heckled her as she raised her voice. Speaker Rivlin suggested Tirosh finish her speech, and she did.

MK Tirosh decided to pull her bill and vote on it at a later date.

Estate Tax Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that the estate tax is too high for the lower and middle classes and that the estate tax for higher-income classes is too low. She informed that her amendment would fix that. She blasted the government for regressive indirect taxes that hurt the middle class when they could raise indirect taxes that would hurt the rich, such as the estate tax. She said that the country must return to socialism and abandon its capitalistic tendencies. She warned that Israel is going towards early-20th century Russia and Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

Environment Minister Erdan said that Solodkin is exaggerating in her predictions. He expressed government opposition to the bill. He noted that Solodkin is asking for double taxation because the person who earned the money paid income tax on it. He added that many elderly rich people make aliya to Israel because of its low estate taxes and Israel is not interested in discouraging this practice.

The bill was defeated 8-28.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained that his amendment would place a limitation on the validity of gag orders. He stated that gag orders are given out excessively, over one hundred annually, and there is no expiration date on them. He said that it is a violation of freedom of the press and the right of the public to know. He noted that the situation today is that the foreign media covers the stories that have a gag order on them and that Israelis receive the news from the world’s bloggers instead of from its own press. He said that we should require those who request a gag order to have a judge extend it every so often. He stated that there are gag orders on current investigations that have been going on for years.

Environment Minister Erdan said that asking a judge to hear a gag order extension every two weeks is excessive and therefore the government is against the bill. He said that what Shai is asking for is a waste of time and money. Erdan explained that the part of the bill that entitles a journalist to fast-track an appeal on a gag order is accepted by the government. He said that the government will only support this part of the bill and will oppose the rest of it. He blasted Shai for trying to waste police manpower that barely has enough resources to enforce the law on a trip to the courts every week. He also slammed Shai for putting limitations on court decisions.

MK Shai agreed to only advance the part of the bill that the government supports. He went on to criticize Erdan and the Likud.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 32-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Jerusalem – Israel’s Capital Bill

MK Ariel (N.U.) praised Jerusalem Mayor Barkat for attending this important session to support this very important bill. He stated that 40 MKs have agreed to co-sponsor his bill. He offered his condolences to MK Elkin (Likud), whose father passed away this week. Ariel explained that his amendment would require the government to give a priority to Jerusalem through economic aspects. He informed that the bill requires the government to recognize Jerusalem as a priority “A” area in terms of building, housing, industry and commerce. He noted that the construction freeze on eastern Jerusalem is raising the prices of housing nationally, made worse by the building freeze in Judea and Samaria which has created the housing shortage. He blasted the government for opposing this bill and questioned where their priorities are. He warned that more people are leaving Jerusalem than moving to Jerusalem and that it must raise a red flag. He called on the government to reconsider and vote for the bill.

Environment Minister Erdan said that he agreed with MK Ariel that Jerusalem should be the government’s top priority. He explained that he supports the bill and the government does as well. He said he would not comment on the rest of Ariel’s words.

MK Oron (Meretz) opposed the bill. He said that he doesn’t want to enter the “who loves Jerusalem more” contest, because he knows he will lose. He confessed he wants to see Jerusalem divided now and for future generations. He charged that the government doesn’t really want this bill to pass and will kill it in the committee. He doubted that the government will give Jerusalem the NIS 400 million budget required by the bill. He blasted the current NIS 270 million budget for Jerusalem and says that it comes at the expense of the education and health budgets. He blasted former Meretz Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Pepe for supporting this bill.

MK Ariel said that Oron didn’t read or didn’t understand the bill. He said that the bill will give money to Jerusalem indirectly, not directly, and that is the way MKs get things done.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7 and was sent to the House Committee to determine if the Finance or Funds Committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Bill

MK Ariel explained that his amendment would add the army chief rabbi to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Council. Speaker Rivlin informed the MKs that the government supports the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 20-2 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Last Tuesday’s session was about three and a half hours long. Four bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced after passing their first reading and one bill was not voted on.  The Ethiopian Affirmative Action Bill was advanced without the presence of Ethiopian MK Molla (Kadima), who is not a sponsor of the bill and did not speak last time the bill came up in the plenum. Two former journalist MKs voted against a bill that would prohibit the publication of photographs of terrorist attack victims.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 17 MKs participated in the one-minute speech segment of the day. Most discussed the budget. Minister Begin responded to the MKs at the end of the segment.
  • Three motions on various topics in the news were discussed. They were sent for further discussion in various committees by the votes of 15-1, 8-0 and 16-0.
  • Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked (Labor) answered a query.

 

Bills Summary

Expanding the Fair Representation of the Ethiopians in the Civil Service Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) blasted the parents of the Carmel fire who made a spectacle of themselves in the state memorial for their shloshim. He then explained that his amendment would help fight prejudice against Ethiopians by demanding a quota for their people as part of an affirmative action that would raise their representation in the civil service and the public companies. He noted that there is only one Ethiopian in the entire civil service.

MK Naffaa (Balad) said this is a worthy bill. He expressed his feeling that all minorities are discriminated against and that this bill won’t be enforced. He criticized the government for cutting funds for the Druze and Circassian communities. He blasted fellow Druze MKs Matalon and Kara, and praised Druze MK Whbee, who fought with him for Druze rights.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said that he volunteered to help absorb the Ethiopians when they arrived in the 1980s, particularly in Kiryat Gat, and that he supports the bill enthusiastically. He said that although affirmative action is a good thing, it does hurt people who are “normal” and come from good families. He suggested that the affirmative action bill be amended to put a limit of 15 years on the quota, in order to put a deadline on the absorption of their aliyah.

MK Akunis (Likud) praised former Prime Minister Shamir, who brought the Ethiopians to Israel. He noted that there are 120,000 Ethiopians in Israel today and that 74% of them make minimum wage or are unemployed.

MK Tibi (R.T.) said that affirmative action of Arabs is barely enforced in the civil service and public sectors. He said that he doubts this bill will be enforced. He attacked House Committee Chairman Levin for delaying bills in his committee that would enforce Arab affirmative action.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that he doesn’t like the idea of affirmative action because at this point there is too much of it, although he agrees with it from a moral point of view. He attacked those in the civil service and the public sector who do not hire religious people because of their restrictions of not working on Shabbat and the Jewish holidays.

The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Immigration and Absorption Committee.

Amendment to the Protection of Privacy Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained that his amendment would prohibit the publication of photographs of those injured or killed in terrorist attacks or other disasters without their family’s consent. He said that we have a moral right to those who are hurt to protect them and their rights over the principle of freedom of the press.

MK Ben Ari said that the press should not look at this as an attack. He said the press has their place and this is not one of them. He said that journalists take pictures instead of helping injured people, and this bill will change that. He asked the press to keep their nose out of these issues.

MK Zeev blasted the media for past photos that were hard to stomach and said that limits must be put on the freedom of the press in this regard.

MK Ezra (Kadima) said that sometimes we need to use very tough pictures to show the world what the terrorists are doing to us. He said allowing the Palestinians to be the only side to show these types of pictures is giving them a clear advantage.

MK Orbach (J.H.) said that he doesn’t feel comfortable with this bill. He said he is against limiting freedom of the press and that the Knesset should not do such things. He told the Knesset to let the press choose their own ethics and let the public judge. He asked if the next bill will outlaw reality television because they are not politically correct.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) said that this bill has no place in Israeli society. She said this bill will prohibit the press from covering the most important stories. She said the press is responsible and this bill is among the worst she has ever seen. She called on the Knesset to oppose it.

MK Adatto (Kadima) said that as a hospital general manager she begged the press to stop filming the dead and injured in the hospital. She said she is very much for this bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) said that a balance is needed but that the legislation comes from the fact that the press ignores their ethics committee decisions. He said that the press worship ratings and their own interests. He said that we can’t trust the press because they have failed. He asked why we can criticize the prime minister, celebrities, politicians, musicians and athletics, but we can’t criticize the press.

The bill passed its first reading 15-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained that the amendment would prohibit the army from paying a salary to reservists through an employer. He explained the employers ask for the army to pay them for seven days per week instead of five days per week. He also noted some employers don’t give the full amount to the soldier. He explained that his bill would force the army to give the soldier the full amount instead of giving it to an employer. He praised his co-sponsor MK Ezra, who signed dozens of MKs to support the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Israel Defense Forces Pensions Bill

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained that his amendment would allow career soldiers the benefits they are entitled to by the government security industries. He gave an example of a computer specialist who worked in the army for twenty years and realizes that if he works privately after he retires he will pay very high taxes and barely make any money. He said those talented people go overseas instead. He stated that this bill would prevent that very situation. He said that because the government was opposing the bill, even though they supported it in its preliminary reading, he would not request a vote on it.

Monday’s session lasted about three and a half hours. Four bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced after passing their first readings and one bill became law after passing its third reading. The new law discusses the strengthening of buildings for earthquakes. The bills advanced discussed supervision of bank committees, a center for collecting fines, and female representation in public companies’ directorial boards.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu government’s cuts in the budgets of the Druze and Circassian sectors’ was defeated 34-54 with 32 MKs not present.
  • The three Israeli-Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘Raising water prices and gas taxes’ was defeated 31-55 with 34 MKs not present.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Land Bill

Interior Committee Chairman MK Azoulay (Shas) explained that the amendment would require the strengthening of all condominium buildings to withstand earthquakes. He added that buildings that cannot withstand an earthquake may be vacated by the government if two-thirds of the building agrees to the terms.

The bill passed its second reading 43-0.

The bill passed its third reading 44-0.

MK Orlev (J.H.) thanked the Knesset for supporting his bill but warned that this was only the first step. He said he preferred lowering the threshold to 50% of the building, because 50,000 buildings in Israel currently could not withstand an earthquake.

MK Azoulay said he hopes that mayors will help the government enforce these new regulations in their cities in a timely fashion.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that the amendment would increase monitoring and supervision on the banks’ directorial committees.

MK Oron (Meretz) said he feels private interests are controlling the banks in Israel and this bill will help cover that fact up.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) said that he felt there should be no government interference in private business and therefore he was against the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 24-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

The two objectors to the bill did not vote.

Amendment to the Center to Collect Fines, Fees and Expenses Bill

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) explained that the amendment would combine the records for fines, fees and expenses in one center that would have the power to increase interest on unpaid debts once a year. She hoped this bill would help increase the collection of unpaid debts citizens have towards the country which, in turn, would increase the State budget.

MK Sheetrit said that he offered a similar bill and it was rejected. He said that the current situation is a bit crazy and something needs to be done to change it. He said that right now there are over a million unpaid debts to the country that account for over a trillion NIS. He added that some fines are too high because of long unpaid interest and should be lowered.

MK Zeev (Shas) offered a quote from Parshat Bahar that forbids interest. He blasted the bill that will make it easier to take a refrigerator or a bed from a poor person who has no money. He said he hoped those supporting the bill will be able to sleep tonight knowing they voted for a bill that will throw people out on the street.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) called the bill terrible. He talked about the Sochat trial, in which two people were forced to confess to a murder and then released nine months later when the real murderers were found. He said he was afraid that it was a widespread phenomenon that the police do when they can’t find a killer. He said he was worried about the people who are serving life sentences but are really innocent.

The bill passed its first reading 15-0 with MK Zeev abstaining and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Companies Bill

Deputy Minister Gamliel explained that the amendment would require representation from both sexes on the board of a public company. She added that the amendment would require at least one female representative who is not a wife, sister, mother or daughter of another board member.

MK Ben Ari said that there is equality between the sexes and that this bill will hurt that. He said women should be at home putting their kids to bed at night, instead of staying at work late for board meetings. He went on to criticize the left for supporting terrorists and demanded they protect their children instead.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said that the bill comes from a good place. He said that the chairman in his house is his wife and that there is no need for legislation. He blasted the bill that allows the minority to choose a female representative who is not wanted by the controlling interests of a company.

Deputy Minister Gamliel responded that under the bill the controlling interests would present a list of recommendations and the minority would choose a candidate from the list.

The bill passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

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