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Joint session expected as two Houses disagree over anti-smoking law

By JT - May 12,2016 - Last updated at May 12,2016

AMMAN — The Senate on Thursday insisted for the second time on its amendments to the Public Heath Law, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

Accordingly, a joint session of Parliament will be scheduled to resolve the disagreement between the two Chambers over the amendments in accordance with Article 92 of the Constitution.

During a session on Thursday, the Senate insisted on its amendments to the law under which family and tribal diwans (gathering places) are included in the non-smoking places listed in the law, Petra said.

On April 10, the Lower House returned the bill to the Senate insisting that diwans be excluded.

Under the law, smoking is prohibited in hospitals, healthcare centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, libraries, museums, public and non-governmental buildings, public transport vehicles, airports, border crossings, stadiums, closed playgrounds, lecture halls, Internet cafés, tourism buildings and any other similar location

On March 13, the Lower House endorsed the law, stiffening the penalty for smoking in public places. 

Under the new amendments, a prison term from one to three months or a fine no less than JD100 and no more than JD200 will be imposed on those caught smoking cigarettes or any tobacco product in public places.

The government’s version of the law stipulated that any person caught smoking in a public place is subject to between one week and one month imprisonment or a JD15-JD25 fine. 

In the law, a “public place” is defined as the place designated to receive the public or a certain category of people like hospitals and schools.

Also on Thursday, the Upper House passed the 2015 draft drugs and psychotropic substances law and the new amendments to the Central Bank Law as referred from the Lower House. 

 

Constitutional amendments

 

The Senate endorsed the government’s changes to six laws, rephrased to be in line with the 2016 constitutional amendments, as referred from the Lower House.

The six pieces of legislation are: the 2015 Elections Law; the Independent Elections Commission Law; the Independence of the Judiciary Law; and the gendarmerie, general intelligence departments and Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army officers’ service laws.

The amendments to the six laws allow holders of dual nationalities to run for parliamentary elections, assume the presidency or become members of the Independent Elections Commission and assume the presidency of the Judicial Council.

A Royal Decree issued last week endorsed the amendments to the Constitution for 2016. 

The Council of Ministers removed a paragraph from Article 75 of the Constitution under which persons with a dual nationality are banned from becoming MPs, senators, ministers or senior officials.

As part of the amendments, a new paragraph was added to Article 40 of the Constitution, granting the King the sole power to appoint the Crown Prince, the Regent, the Senate president and senators, the members of the Constitutional Court, the president of the Higher Judicial Council, the army’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, and the directors of the General Intelligence Department and the Gendarmerie Department.

The Cabinet also reworded Article 50 of the Constitution, removing the death of the prime minister as one of the cases when the government has to immediately resign.

 

In addition, the amendments entail extending the term of the House speaker to two calendar years instead of one.

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