VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – A packed final day of the legislature’s spring session today, ending with the Liberals celebrating the passage of new laws while the NDP complained about being muzzled.

The laws range from a bill that will replace the HST with the provincial sales tax, to one that proclaims a new statutory holiday next February.
   
The NDP says the Liberals used their majority in the house to ram through the laws without full debate.

Opposition parties wanted more time to debate important issues and that may mean a return to Victoria this fall.

BC Conservative MLA John van Dongen was concerned that would not happen, saying there was some good legislation. “I’m not always critical of what the government has tabled but lets do it properly. Use the availability of the fall session to complete the work in a timely and thorough manner with sufficient debate.”

“Fall session is optional, but to do a proper job you should use the time available,” adds van Dongen.

He says the sitting government is probably tentative to sign up for a fall session because it tends to help opposition parties, but he thinks they should be do what is right for the people and that means, “when the process is respected, generally you’re going to get both better legislation and a better understanding of the legislation.”

The NDP are also pushing for that fall session, accusing the government of stacking the agenda and that’s why there’s no time for proper discussion.

Premier Clark has not confirmed when the legislature will resume.

In a release to the media, the BC Liberals say highlights of this spring session include family day, the education improvement act, transit fines, the minimum wage, end of AirCare, expanding AMBER Alert system, jobs, and an Asian Trade Mission.

Key highlights of the session:

• A Family Day for British Columbians, as promised by Premier Christy
Clark, on the second Monday of February starting in 2013.
• The Education Improvement Act, which implements a $195-million Learning
Improvement Fund to provide additional support to teachers and
administrators, and added resources to classrooms with the highest needs.
• Legislation that will ensure people who cheat Metro Vancouver’s transit
system will face serious consequences.
• Increasing the minimum wage, a key commitment of Premier Christy Clark,
meaning B.C. now has Canada’s second-highest minimum wage – which is great
news for employees.
•Ending AirCare for light vehicles, increasing affordability for families
while looking for new ways to improve air quality.
• Expanding the AMBER Alert system that will see 30,000 civil servants
receive alerts at work and on their mobile devices, helping police return
children to their families faster.
•Six Month BC Jobs Update: 59,700 net new jobs added to the B.C. economy.
• Completed the second Asian Trade Mission, strengthening and expanding
trade with Japan, Korea and the Philippines to attract investment and
create jobs for B.C. families.
• The Income Tax Amendment Act, which establishes the B.C. First-Time New
Home Buyers’ $10,000 Bonus and the B.C. Seniors’ $1,000 annual Home
Renovation Tax Credit for those 65 years of age and older.