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NDP, Conservatives strike deal to end lengthy legislative session

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The Selinger government and the Conservative Opposition have reached a deal on an end date for what will be the longest spring sitting ever of the Manitoba legislature.

MLAs will continue to sit until mid-September and then return on Nov. 12.

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Before they break next month, they will bring the government’s anti-bullying legislation, Bill 18, to a final vote, and they will also vote on Bill 33, the legislation that requires tiny municipalities to amalgamate, and several other pieces of legislation. The government’s majority ensures these bills will pass.

Public hearings on Bill 18 will begin Tuesday evening, following the Labour Day long weekend.

Meanwhile, the government will have to wait until late fall before a final vote will be held on Bill 20, which enables it to hike the PST without holding a referendum of Manitobans. The province will continue to collect the increased sales tax just as it has since July 1, when the hike took effect after being announced in the April 16 budget.

Both the government and the Opposition compromised to end the marathon sitting which had threatened to keep MLAs in the House through the fall.

The NDP will see Bill 18 – a key party priority – passed just a few weeks into the school year, while the Tories got a guarantee that next year’s spring session will begin much earlier – March 6 – and end in late June.

The current sitting will end as early as Sept. 13 and no later than Sept. 17, depending on how long committee hearings on Bills 18 and 33 take. A total of 317 Manitobans have signed up to speak at committee on the government’s controversial anti-bullying legislation, while 83 have signalled their intention to speak on municipal amalgamation. With both bills, the bulk of presenters will be from outside Winnipeg.

In addition to Bills 18 and 33, several other pieces of legislation will come to a final vote before the current sitting ends next month, while the rest will be carried over until November.

There will be a Speech from the Throne on Nov. 12, but by all-party agreement, bills that are not passed by mid-September will be carried over into the fall session.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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