A new plenary week has started, so today our digest is about draft bills on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada that can be adopted or passed in the first reading. If you are a local councilor, a parent of a preschooler, or just a Ukrainian citizen concerned about the Law on Language or commemoration of defenders of Ukraine, there will be important information for you in our digest.
Bills to repeal the Law on State Language or postpone fines for violating it (4638, 4638-2, 4638-1)
Status: included on the parliamentary agenda.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens.
What does it change:
- core draft bill #4638 proposes to permanently abolish fines for violating the requirements on language in customer service
- alternative draft bill #4638-2 proposes to postpone fines for a year and four months
- another alternative bill #4638-1 proposes technical revisions of the Law on Language and does not change it in essence.
What is wrong:
In the core bill:
- without real penalties, the Law on the State Language will become a mere declaration unable to perform its functions
- provisions on the language in customer service came into force only on January 16 this year, so it is impossible to evaluate their effectiveness. Any amendments to the law either introducing more severe penalties or softening them are premature since no reliable assessment can be made in such a short period.
In the alternative bill #4638-2:
- like bill #4638, it deprives the Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language of all means to react to violations of the law except for issuing warnings and warnings usually produce no effect
- the bill is unconstitutional since it introduces an ex post facto provision by proposing to postpone the enactment of the legal norm that is already enacted.
Bill shifting the problem of shortage of places in kindergartens on local governments (4604)
Status: first reading.
Who is affected: local governments, parents, and preschoolers.
What does the bill change:
- the bill proposes to make local governments responsible for establishing and maintaining networks of preschool education establishments
- every child will be entitled to the right to receive preschool education in a preschool education establishment that is nearest to his or her place of living
- the bill also provisions that the priority claim to be admitted to a particular municipal kindergarten will have children living nearby, children whose siblings (including adopted siblings) attend this kindergarten, and children of the staff.
What is wrong:
- to make local governments fully responsible for networks of preschool education establishments is unconstitutional. According to the Constitution, the state and not a local government has to provide accessible and free preschool education both in state and municipal institutions
- the bill provisions that preschool education establishments can be of any form of property: municipal, state, or private. The bill also allows corporate ownership when several legal entities of different forms of ownership own a preschool institution, e.g. a local government and a private enterprise. However, the bill defines a network of preschool education establishments as comprising only of municipal institutions. This is an oversight since all preschool education establishments provide similar services and comply with the same requirements and restrictions
- although the bill is supposed to be enacted right after its publication (probably within a month or two), it cannot be implemented in the nearest future. It is obvious that in many big cities, especially in Kyiv, it is impossible to create enough places in municipal kindergartens. It will take time and huge amounts of money to buy or renovate enough premises and train new staff.
What else: overall, the bill is a rollback to the Soviet system of preschool education in municipal institutions. However, neither communities nor the state has financial resources to create enough places in kindergartens without engaging private capital.
Alternative solution: to deal with the problem, it is possible to use an approach similar to the family medicine reform, i.e. to introduce the principle “money follows the service consumer”. As a result, private capital will be more interested in investing in preschool education. Many private kindergartens that now work misrepresenting themselves as child clubs or hobby groups will go legal.
Bill to establish the National military memorial cemetery (4225)
Status: first reading.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens and the Ministry for Veteran Affairs.
What does the bill change:
- the bill proposes to establish the National military memorial cemetery in Kyiv oblast
- the cemetery will be designated for honorific burials and reburials of fighters for independence of Ukraine in the 20th century, soldiers killed in action, combat veterans, persons disabled in the war, and persons who provided distinguished services to the motherland
- the construction of the cemetery will be supervised and paid for by the Ministry for Veteran Affairs, the procedure of burials and the template of memorial stones will be established by the Cabinet.
What is right: cemeteries of this kind exist in many countries. The establishment of the National memorial military cemetery in Ukraine is a proper way to preserve the national memory and commemorate people that have given their lives for the freedom of Ukraine.
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