News roundup - Friday, 21 July

Ljubljana, 21 July - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 21 July:

MPs override upper chamber's veto on long-term care bill

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly overrode the upper chamber's veto on the long-term care bill with an absolute majority vote of 52:10. Minister for Solidarity-Based Future Simon Maljevac said that this meant Slovenia would now get a new welfare state pillar. He remains optimistic that the law will take effect as of the start of the new year. The coalition insists on defending the new law, while the opposition keeps criticising it, particularly its sources of funding.

Employers quit main industrial relations forum

LJUBLJANA - Organisations representing businesses announced they were quitting the Economic and Social Council over their opinion on laws such as those on long-term care and labour relationships being ignored and due to ever more burdens imposed on the economy. Representatives of the government and a head of a trade union confederation said that employers had made a tactical move to block key legislation with their decision to quit the country's main industrial relations forum. The decision is just part of the strategy to prevent the adoption of acts improving citizens' social security, the prime minister's office said. ESS chair Jakob Počivavšek thinks the decision is premature.

President scolds government over opinion on migration laws

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar is negatively surprised by the government issuing an opinion that considered the changes to immigration and asylum laws adopted by the previous government constitutional. Some of the ministers unwittingly endorsed the position even if they challenged the laws before the Constitutional Court in the previous term. The president said decision-makers must be well-acquainted beforehand with the content they are deciding on.

Deactivation of WWII bomb in Nova Gorica to go ahead on Sunday

NOVA GORICA - The 250-kilogram aerial bomb from World War II that was discovered near the Slovenian-Italian border in Nova Gorica on Monday will be deactivated and removed on Sunday. Nearby residents, including in Gorizia on the Italian side, will be evacuated for the duration of the operation. The deactivation is scheduled from 10am to 2pm, with the evacuation to start at 7am. About 1,100 residents will be evacuated in Slovenia and 2,200 on the Italian side.

Slovenian minority wants to have a say in Austrian school curricula

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Taking issue with certain decisions of the Austrian authorities, an umbrella Slovenian minority organisation in the state of Carinthia has asked that minority representatives be included in the ongoing efforts to prepare new curricula for Austrian schools. The Community of Carinthian Slovenians also wants bilingual administrative business be ensured in courts in several towns in Carinthia.

Minister calls for swift efforts to mitigate storm damage

NAKLO - Having gotten briefed on damage caused by recent severe storms, Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko warned against visiting damaged woodland areas and expressed support for swift restoration efforts. Gregor Danev, head of the Forest Service, believes that priorities must be set in clean-up efforts to prevent additional bark beetle attacks, ensure clean water supply and avoid floods. Friday saw another batch of storms accompanied by strong gusts of wind and hail in certain areas. The northern Koroška region was hit hardest.

Traffic flow improved at former border crossing Dragonja

DRAGONJA - The authorities have removed a few small facilities at Dragonja and secured new road markings to improve traffic flow at the former border crossing with Croatia. Similar measures are also planned at other former border crossings with the southern neighbour. The new design of the border crossing was presented by representatives of the interior and infrastructure ministries, which cooperate in the project to revamp all border crossings with Croatia after the country joined the Schengen area in January.

Consumer confidence boosted

LJUBLJANA - The consumer confidence index improved by one percentage point on the monthly level in July after deteriorating in June. In the yearly comparison it rose by seven percentage points, according to the Statistics Office. The rise on the monthly level is a result of more optimistic consumer expectations about household finances. Consumers were less optimistic about their expectations regarding the country's state of economy.

Production suspended at SIJ Acroni due to equipment issue

JESENICE - Jesenice-based SIJ Acroni, part of the steel group SIJ, is to suspend a significant part of production for three months due to major damage to the main engine of the rolling frame in its hot rolling mill. According to the SIJ group, the damage to the equipment occurred last week. Nobody was injured, but the economic damage will be significant. The Slovenian steel group in majority Russian ownership added that no lay-offs were expected.

Social workers under scrutiny after six-year-old tests positive for cocaine

PIRAN - A six-year-old boy has been found with cocaine in his system after staying with his father in Piran. The father is now in custody while the social work centre in charge is under scrutiny. Reactions have come from top officials, but the centre has rejected claims it had not heeded the mother's warnings the father, a drug addict, is unfit to be a carer.

E-scooter accidents surge, riders mostly at fault

LJUBLJANA - The number of traffic accidents involving e-scooters is climbing at an alarming rate, with the Slovenian Traffic Safety Agency recording 101 such cases by mid-June alone. Most often, the riders themselves cause the accidents and are not aware of how fast they are going with their e-scooters, the agency said. Some 65% of the riders were to blame for the accidents this year, up half a percentage point on last year, when two riders died. This year, 12 people were severely injured and 69 sustained minor injuries.

Matej Mohorič wins stage 19 of the Tour de France

DIJON, France - Slovenian rider Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 19 of the Tour de France in a photo finish ahead of Danish rider Kasper Asgreen and Australian Ben O'Connor. "This victory means a lot because it's hard and cruel to be a professional cyclist," Mohorič said, adding that he had to do this for the late teammate Gino Mäder, who died in June after a crash on the Tour de Suisse. The route spanning 172,8 km from Moirans-en-Montagne to Poligny did not bring any notable changes to the overall standings.

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