The Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast

Address by Oksana Kozlovskaya at the 7th Session
of the Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast(March 29, 2012)

Oksana Kozlovskaya
Oksana Kozlovskaya, Speaker of the Duma of the new convocation decided to continue the tradition of delivering an opening speech at Duma sessions.

Key March events

First, Vladmir Putin was elected President of the Russian Federation on March 4 with 45 million supporting votes. Oksana Kozlovskaya spoke of the victory of Vladimir Putin as a signal to all political forces of the country that people want stability rather than revolutions and evolution rather than cataclysms. That was what the majority elected. The results of the presidential elections do not mean that renewal and modernization of the political system are no longer needed. The old approaches must be abandoned. That is true both for the ruling party and the opposition.

Another important event took place in Tomsk Oblast. Sergey Zhvachkin took office of Governor of Tomsk Oblast on March 17. The 7th session is the first Duma session attended by the new governor.

Oksana Kozlovskaya drew the deputies’ attention to the organization of work of the Legislative Duma and highlighted the Duma’s priorities.
It is symbolic that the new convocations of the Tomsk Oblast Duma and the State Duma of the Russian Federation started their work simultaneously for the first time ever. At the March 14 session of the State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin named five priority areas of activity of the State Duma:

  • Increase people’s trust in the Duma
  • Fight legal nihilism of the Russian society
  • Activate the Duma’s control functions
  • Work in the “co-creation” mode with non-parliamentary forces
  • Fully engage in shaping executive bodies
As Oksana Kozlovskaya noted, a constructive discussion should return to the parliament. Representative bodies at all levels of power must become the platform for a dialogue between power and people on all topical issues.

Before, there was just idle talk about party pluralism and the need for a variety of political forces in regional, district and rural dumas. That is becoming reality now and means that we all need to learn to come to agreement!

We are to master the culture of political discussion very soon. I am sure that Tomsk with its intellectual potential and historical liberalism is able to become a pilot ground for practicing the new format of political discussion at the regional level. Today, Tomsk has a unique opportunity to become a real center of parliamentarism!

Two notions resonating with the official name of our Duma – legislation and legal compliance – reflect the key areas of activity of any legislative body.

The first area includes development of new bills and control over the enforcement of the existing laws. In its previous four convocations, the Tomsk Oblast Duma passed around 11,000 legislative acts, out of them around 3,000 laws. That is a great deal. But are we fully aware of how these laws work and how they are kept in force? What is the percentage of “deadweight” in our legal framework, i.e. adopted laws that do not influence anything and exist only on paper. I presume the Duma must know how effective Oblast laws are in terms of supporting the development of the economy and social sphere of the region and improvement of people’s lives.

Law-making activity. It is important that deputies themselves be the subjects of the legislative initiative. In our work we must be guided by proposals and problems of our voters.

The generally accepted approach when the majority of bills are introduced to the Duma by current regional government is practiced in Tomsk Oblast as well. At the same time, the executive and representative braches may use different approaches to tackling problems. Our federal counterparts have adopted a useful practice – the concept of a future law undergoes comprehensive public consultation at the stage of shaping the ideology as such of the document. We tested this approach for the first time when we held parliamentary hearings of the draft Social Code of Tomsk Oblast which we are developing in cooperation with the Tomsk Oblast Administration.

Exercising our right to introduce legislative initiatives in the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation is also part of our law-making activity. We should take more advantage of this right and use it to better protect the interests of the region and its people. I will give you a positive example – the State Duma accepted for consideration the initiative of our Duma to hold parents accountable when their teenage children are caught drunk. This initiative was adopted at the February session of the Duma.

Legal compliance

The Duma should and must intensify efforts to fight legal nihilism of our society, neglect of law compliance, and legal illiteracy not only among ordinary people but also among businesspeople, public organizations, and public officials. This work should be coordinated by the Duma Council. Here, I rely heavily on the support and responsible attitude of mass media.

New formats of Duma work

The Duma started to implement new formats of work such as a field session of the Council of the Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast in Kolpashevsky District. The session was attended by all heads of committees and factions of the Duma. By doing so, we were able to see many problems in a different light. For example:

  • The role of deputies, first of all those representing rural areas, in developing their territories
  • The situation with ungraded schools
  • Specific features of the public utilities sector in remote rural areas and the government’s position in relation to this business
We are already working on those problems with the executive bodies. I hope that this new way of interaction of the Oblast deputies with their colleagues from district and rural dumas and local administration offices will prove fruitful and improve the quality of our decisions.

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