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(LEAD) Court to review constitutionality of parliamentary act

All News 15:41 January 28, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more information in paras 6-11)

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- The Constitutional Court will hold a public hearing Thursday to review the constitutionality of the contentious National Assembly Act amid a parliamentary speaker's move to revise it.

The act, passed in May 2012, stipulates that a bill with contested issues can only be put up for a vote with the approval of more than 60 percent of sitting lawmakers and requires a bipartisan agreement for a parliamentary speaker to table the bill.

The clause, however, has been criticized as the main culprit behind paralyzing the 19th National Assembly as the ruling party could not send contentious bills to the floor for a vote without the consent of opposition parties.

A total of 19 lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party filed a petition with the Constitutional Court in January 2015, arguing that the clause goes against the Constitution and simple majority rule.

Rival parties have asked the court to deliver the ruling before the current parliament wraps up in May.

Separately, National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa tabled the revision to an act that would gradually ease the requirements for so-called "fast-track legislation."

Chung presented the bipartisan revision plan with the signature of 15 lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties to the National Assembly.

Under the revision, a speaker can introduce a bill for voting when a simple majority of lawmakers makes the demand.

Chung said the current clause has paralyzed the parliament by preventing lawmakers from passing a set of important bills.

"I believe that (rival parties) would begin discussing the revision out of respect, since it would be submitted by a parliamentary speaker by himself," Chung told reporters earlier in the day.

Chung further expressed hope that the revision would end months of parliamentary deadlock.


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