Mexico Congress Passes Blitz of Reforms Amid Tension

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s senate raced against the clock to pass a cascade of legal reforms before its recess, in a chaotic show of political force by the ruling Morena party weeks before some states hold elections.

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Members of the ruling party sat in a makeshift meeting hall on the patio of the Senate building amid tension with the opposition, who were protesting that the government had not approved a commissioner to the transparency watchdog, leaving it without the ability to operate. The senate passed over a dozen reforms early Saturday within minutes of each other, according to local newspaper El Universal.

The reforms already had approval from the lower house and need to appear in the official gazette to enter into effect as laws. Other bills that were pending a senate vote will eventually be debated once sessions resume in September. In June, the states of Mexico and Coahuila will hold elections for governors and lawmakers, which could also boost power for the ruling coalition.

These are some of the most important reforms approved by the senate:

  • An aerospace reform that gives the government a chance to revive defunct carrier Mexicana de Aviacion as a way to lower ticket and increase competition in the sector. The reform also gives the army the authority to operate both an airline and the airport into which it would fly

  • A controversial mining reform that reduces the amount of time a company could hold a concession to 30 years, with the possibility of extending it to as many as 80 years, down from a current maximum period of 100

  • A stock markets reform that streamlines regulations to make it easier for companies to issue debt and equity, as well as allow for dual-class shares to entice family-controlled companies to go public.

A reform to the labor rules, which suggests reducing weekly work hours to 40 from 48, remains among those to be discussed in September during congress’ new term.

--With assistance from Nicolle Yapur, Michael O'Boyle and Andrea Navarro.

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