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August 23, 2014

Pro and K’s bills

Sunday, February 2, 2014

BA City Mayor Macri vetoed two laws per week in January

By Mariano Beldyk
For The Herald
BA City Mayor Mauricio Macri has had a busy summer in office: only in January, the City Hall leader used his veto power to block eight bills that were passed by the local Legislature in December 2013.

That is an average of two veto orders per week signed by him during the last month, one more than in January 2013.

Publicly criticized last year for not hesitating in the use of his executive power to halt passed laws, Macri’s vetoes were not solely directed at rival political forces. What is more, the number of quashed initiatives tabled by the the ruling centre-right PRO party almost match the ones that came from the Kirhnerite camp

According to Article No. 87 of the BA City Constitution, the legislators have a second opportunity if they want to insist with the original bill: impose it with the vote of two-thirds of the Legislature’s members.

Otherwise, the bill falls into a one-year abyss during which it can not be introduced again for discussion

Some of the laws vetoed, correspond to legislators who are currently in office and may have this chance. At least, theoretically, for a 28-legislator Unión PRO caucus in a 60-member chamber makes any lobbying enterprise a pretty titanic task. Particularly when dealing with a yellow bloc —the colour that distinguishes Mayor Macri’s umbrella— that is not prone to rifts.

PRO lawmaker Daniel Lipovetzky’s case is emblematic in this sense. His bill obliged restaurants, pubs and all private establishments opened to the general public with a 50-square metre surface or higher to incorporate specially-designed chairs for people suffering from obesity.

Although the law was passed on December 5, Macri’s decree No. 19/14 froze its enforcement declaring that its paragraphs were not “precise” about the definition of private establishments.

A similar thing occurred to another PRO lawmaker’s initiative to ban the street sale of sunglasses and spectacles and limit it to optician stores or legally authorized shops. The bill introduced by legislator Jorge Garayalde also aimed to ban the sale of “low-quality materials” and forbid the import of ready-made glasses.

Macri justified the veto by saying that the bill was “vague” about how the regulation would be enforced and that it exceeded municipal powers by trying to regulate imports.

Kirchnerite camp

Other cases of mayoral vetoes are vaguer, especially those involving legislators who left their seats during last December’s reshuffle.

This case includes mainly Kirchnerite lawmakers who couldn’t renew their seats for another term during the 2013 midterms or have moved on to the national Lower House as in the case of Juan Cabandié.

Former Victory Front lawmaker María José Lubertino was the most affected with two bills vetoed by Macri. The first one was a one-time subsidy of 400,000 pesos for a resident of Palermo neighbourhood due to his poor housing conditions while the latter was the halting of the implementation of the Sustainability Act, which regulates government purchases and contracts.

In the first case, Decree No. 18/14 justified the veto by labelling the 400,000 pesos subsidy as an “unjustified benefit for an individual in detriment of others who may be experiencing similar conditions.”

On the Sustainability Act’s veto, City Hall explained that the high demands of the law made it “impossible to be enforced” because many of its requirements are not on offer. For example, Macri said, a report on the energy consumption of all goods before purchasing them.

The mayor also vetoed two expropriation laws passed on December: a set of bills introduced by former Kirchnerite legislators María Elena Naddeo — to assign to the BA City Housing Institute a building that was never finished to be used for social housing — and to grant “Dulce Carola” bankrupt lingerie factory’s workers the production site to support their cooperative enterprise.

In both cases Macri stated that the conditions to for the expropriation were not fulfilled.

Finally, the mayor objected a couple of laws involving municipal funds. One exempted the Social Security coffers for the Buenos Aires City lawyers (Cassaba) from paying a property tax debt and the other was an initiative of two PRO lawmakers —Daniel Presti and Rogelio Frigerio, now heading the Banco Ciudad— to establish a trust fund to upgrade the BA City Supreme Court’s infrastructure and information technology.

@mibeldyk

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