New laws paving the way for every home in Wales to be revalued for council tax purposes will be introduced and there will also be an increase in the number of Senedd members.
These are just some of the new laws announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
He has set out the changes in law - known as bills - that will come forward over the next 12 months.
Mr Drakeford said the new legislation will “make positive changes in the lives of the people of Wales” but Conservatives have criticised the programme as “tone deaf” and being “focussed on the wrong priorities.”
Each year at this time, the Welsh Government sets out the bills it intends to take through the Welsh Parliament when it publishes its Legislative Programme.
It serves a similar function to the King’s Speech in the UK Parliament, although that does not necessarily take place every year and is accompanied by the ceremony of the State Opening.
Here in Wales it is a much more understated affair with the First Minister listing the bills in the Senedd chamber followed by an hour of debate.
Three of the eight bills announced today could oversee significant change in the way that Wales is run and could prove to be controversial.
One will “develop an electoral system fit for the twenty-first century” and is intended to change the way that we vote in Welsh elections, from the (mostly) first-past-the-post system to one that is more proportional although the model proposed has already been criticised by many across the political spectrum.
What are some of the laws?
A Senedd Reform Bill will be introduced later this year meaning the number of Senedd members will increase from the current 60 to 96
The Local Government Finance Bill meaning homes across Wales will be revalued so some people will find themselves in a higher council tax band than they are currently
A Disused Tips Safety Bill to change the law surrounding coal tip safety which was first promised in last year’s Legislative Programme
A Bus Bill was also announced last year and is aimed at improving the bus network and stopping bus companies “putting people before profit"
A Welsh Language Education Bill is aimed at increasing the number of Welsh speakers
Reform is a central part of the cooperation agreement between Mark Drakeford’s Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru so is highly likely to be passed by the Senedd although the Welsh Conservatives are fiercely opposed.
Both of these changes could be in place in time for the next Senedd election in 2026 but the plan to introduce gender quotas at the same time has been separated into a Gender Quotas Bill because of fears that legal issues could delay the whole reform plan.
That could face criticism from supporters of equality measures who fear it could indicate that it has a lower priority.
Another piece of legislation which could lead to controversy is the Local Government Finance Bill. This is aimed at shaking up the council tax and non-domestic (business) rates systems.
As part of that, every one of the 1.5 million homes here in Wales will be part of a revaluation - the first for many decades.
That will have a significant impact for many because rising property prices will mean that many people will find themselves in a higher council tax band than they are currently.
Also promised for the coming year is a Disused Tips Safety Bill to change the law surrounding coal tip safety. This was first promised in last year’s Legislative Programme.
A Bus Bill was also announced last year and is aimed at improving the bus network and stopping bus companies “putting people before profit".
A Welsh Language Education Bill is aimed at increasing the number of Welsh speakers.
The bulk of the bills highlighted today are due to be introduced over the next year although sometimes they can be delayed.
Beyond the next 12 months, the Welsh Government will also introduce bills connected to its agreement with Plaid Cymru on homelessness, building safety. There will also be legislation to introduce a tourism tax.
Speaking ahead of today’s announcement, Mark Drakeford said: “This is an ambitious and radical programme of reform, which will modernise parts of our tax and electoral system, ensure we put the needs of looked-after children ahead of profits, and create a Senedd which reflects the Wales we live in today.
“Our reforms will transform bus services, giving people greater choice about how they travel, and help us towards our ambition of a million Welsh-speakers by 2050.”
What does the opposition say?
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the programme shows “how out of touch the Labour party have become after 25 years of failing the people of Wales.”
He went on to say that “in his programme there is no mention of the excessive waiting lists in our Welsh NHS or a plan to eliminate 2-year waits that still stand at over 30,000 patients, compared with virtually zero in England.
"No mention of our rising unemployment, despite reductions elsewhere in the UK. No mention of a plan to address our position at the bottom of Britain’s GCSE and PISA rankings and no plan to end child poverty, which is still rising in Wales.
“Labour Ministers in the Senedd are focussed on the wrong priorities, they are far more keen on bringing forward their tone-deaf proposal to send 36 more politicians to Cardiff Bay, costing the taxpayer £100 million and their so-called council tax reforms that will increase bills further for the people of Wales, than addressing the people’s priorities.”
Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru described it as "long awaited legislation" to improve democracy.
"The commitment to deliver a parliament that better reflects the population of Wales through the introduction of gender quotas is also to be welcomed. Wales once led in women's representation, as the first parliament to reach 50:50 gender balance, but since then that has slipped back.
"These measures will put in place mechanisms to ensure that our national parliament is properly representative of women in Wales.
"More must be done to increase the representation of people with other protected characteristics, not least people from ethnic minority backgrounds and disabled people, and we hope to see measures to improve the wider diversity of the Senedd included in this legislation."
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