Parties in Assembly agree on three sets of bills

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Parties in Assembly agree on three sets of bills

Leaders of the ruling and opposition parties vowed to use the final month of the 19th National Assembly to pass bills on deregulation, job creation for young people and child abuse prevention, as the lawmakers resumed legislative activities this week.

The JoongAng Ilbo asked 10 senior politicians including floor leaders of the Saenuri Party, Minjoo Party of Korea and the People’s Party to list 10 bills they consider their top priorities for the next few weeks. The 292 lawmakers of the 19th National Assembly will end their term on May 29, and their final legislative session, scheduled to end May 20, began Thursday.

While their opinions varied, three bills were named by all three parties as priorities. Reps. Won Yoo-chul, Kim Jung-hoon and Na Kyung-won of the Saenuri Party said a bill to establish regulation-free zones was a top priority. The bill, sponsored last month by Saenuri Rep. Kang Seong-hoon, was also backed by Minjoo floor leader Lee Jong-kul as well as Chun Jung-bae, co-chairman of the People’s Party, and Rep. Joo Seong-yong, its floor leader.

The bill is intended to lift regulations in special zones in 14 metropolitan cities and provinces to boost the development of certain industries: solar energy for South Chungcheong, the Internet of Things for Daegu and maritime tourism for Busan.

The three parties also said they were willing to negotiate bills aimed at combating youth unemployment. Three bills were proposed by each party, and the ruling and opposition parties said they could be negotiated and passed in the current session.

The Saenuri Party’s bill increases the youth employment quota for public institutions from the current 3 percent to more than 5 percent. The Minjoo Party and the People’s Party presented bills to extend the quotas into the private sector, particularly at conglomerates.

The Saenuri Party, however, disagrees with the idea of forcing a quota on private companies, saying it might even be unconstitutional. “It is more appropriate to offer incentives to the private sector to hire more youngsters,” Kim Jung-hoon, chief policy maker of the Saenuri Party, said.

Bills aimed at rooting out child abuse were also named by the three parties as a priority. The bills, proposed by the Saenuri Party, strengthen punishment for parents who abuse their children.

The three parties also said a bill should be passed to revise the medical act to strengthen punishment for the reusing of disposable needles.

Saenuri floor leader Won Yoo-chul said the ruling and opposition parties’ floor leaders and chief policy makers should meet to pass the urgent bills.

Rep. Lee Jong-kul, floor leader of the Minjoo Party, said lawmakers can make the best use of the final month with bipartisan cooperation.

“Since we have enough consensus on passing the regulation-free zone bill, youth employment bill and child abuse prevention bill, there is no reason to waste any time,” Lee said.

On Friday, Lee also proposed a meeting to his counterparts in the Saenuri Party and People’s Party to quickly pass the bills.

“Let’s strike a deal and pass them all,” he said. “We only have about 40 days left before the 19th National Assembly ends. The ruling and opposition parties must put extraordinary effort into passing all the bills if we agree on them. The floor leaders must also negotiate other urgent bills on the economy and people’s livelihood.”

Rep. Joo Seong-yong, floor leader of the People’s Party, also said Friday that some of the bills pending in the Legislation and Judiciary Committee should be passed as soon as possible.

As of now, 93 bills are pending in the committee, and 11 of them are considered noncontentious.

“If both the ruling and opposition parties make small concessions instead of displaying rigid attitudes, there will be more bills that can be approved,” Kim Chong-in, the Minjoo Party’s interim head, told the JoongAng Ilbo.

“If the noncontentious bills are not passed this time, they will have to wait another six months,” Rep. Lee said. “Some may be too late, so the ruling and opposition parties must work harder to pick the ones they agree with and pass them quickly.”

The parties, however, still disagree on some bills. The Minjoo Party and People’s Party adamantly oppose the labor market reform bills and the service industry advancement bill pushed forward by the Blue House. They want to extend the mandate of a special investigation of the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry.

BY SER MYO-JA, JUNG HYO-SIK [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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