Interviews

Jaroslav Větrovský: I could not be a good legislator without my regional work

Published: 30. 9. 2022
Author: Karel Černý
Photo: Photo Jaroslav Jiřička, Pavel Gwužď
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Jaroslav Větrovský has been in the Mladá Vožice administration for twenty years, fourteen of those as mayor. He has been a senator for six years as well. However, high politics never took him away from the “small.” When you talk to him about his region, his love for it is crystal clear, which is one of the reasons why he often tours it to attend all kinds of meetings and events.

Have you come across the opinion that senators are merely waiting to see what comes out of the Chamber to either approve or refuse it while doing nothing in the meantime?

Naturally, you will hear such opinions from time to time. What I can say is that I keep abreast of the bills going through the legislative process, starting with when they are first discussed in the Chamber. That helps me understand all the context and connections. In my view, the most important activity – even more so than Senate hearings – is a discussion about the bill in question with the interested parties. And so, I try my best to discuss any bills and especially their impact with worker’s organizations, representatives of local administration, non-profits, and others concerned by the legislation. That is where my opinion on the proposed amendment or an entirely new bill is formed.

What is the state of the bills you get from the Chamber? Has the Senate ever prevented a legislative mess?

The bills we get are of differing quality, I cannot say that everything coming from the Chamber is good, but neither is everything bad. I feel that the Senate has prevented a big mess when discussing the so-called tax package, part of which was the abolishment of the so-called super-gross wage. We received a draft from the Chamber that did abolish the super-gross wage but completely ignored the potential impact the lower taxes caused by that would have on the income of cities, municipalities, and regions. Via an amendment that I took an active part in preparing, the Senate solved this issue by changing the tax budget allotment in favor of municipalities and regions. Another mess that the Senate managed to at least slow down is, in my opinion, the implementation of new state construction offices as part of the new construction bill. At my suggestion as this bill’s rapporteur, the Senate refused the draft construction bill unanimously. It could lead to a fatal disconnect between public administration and the countryside, which I see as extremely detrimental.

The Senate itself can propose draft legislation. Does it happen often?

Senators really are able to propose their own draft bills. It does happen from time to time, but the legislative process that any initiative from the Senate has to go through is burdensome and long-drawn. If I remember correctly, some of the key bills coming out of the Senate were the ones regulating the right to bear arms and self-defense. I supported those proposals.

Looking at the current make-up of the Chamber and Senate, it seems like getting bills passed should be no problem. Does allegiance to one’s party also apply in the Senate, does the politicking there work similarly as it does in the Chamber?

I can only speak for myself. And to that end, I can attest that I have never been subjected to any attempts at enforcing party allegiance and that I have always made decisions to the best of my knowledge and conscience. I have never assessed a bill based on the person proposing it but rather based on what benefits it may bring and perhaps even what hurdles it may present to the people.

Is there anything you are working on in the Senate that you would like to finalize in the coming term?

I have been very actively opposing the new construction bill, which would lead to the abolishment of construction offices in municipalities and cities among other changes. I am fundamentally opposed to the centralized model, I feel that the knowledge of local officials is vital. That is why I would like to “keep an eye” on any upcoming amendments to the Construction Act – they may not take away the decision-making from cities and municipalities but can still lead to certain jurisdiction changes. I want to make very sure that even the smallest offices are not disbanded because they are very significant to the locals. In the Tábor constituency, I would like to fight for the smallest offices, such as those in Chýnov, Jistebnice, or Bernartice. I would also like to work on amendments to the State Property Act to make it more lenient toward the needs of municipalities, especially those in the countryside.

You have been the mayor of Mladá Vožice for 16 years now, and you are known to tour “your” region to meet other mayors as well as many other people. How can you help your region as a senator?

On top of those 16 years as mayor, we have to add another term that I worked as deputy mayor. I really do try to travel around the region, I find being able to learn things directly from the people very valuable. A senator’s role to me is – besides being a legislator, of course – to open doors for people at different agencies and ministries. I am very proud that many of such activities were successful – we stopped the amendment that would have led to unequal allocation of funding for local farmers, the D3 highway around Veselí nad Lužnicí is not subject to tolls, we managed to convince the Ministry of Agriculture about the need to compensate Votice for its surrogate care of seized animals. We took an active part in the negotiations about water sources at the Borkovice marshland, we helped transfer unused state property to Tučapy, and I and the mayor of Miličín were very busy finding solutions for the insane traffic situation in and around the municipality. These are just the tip of the iceberg, there were so many other activities, and I really do see the senator’s role in this regard as the person elected by – and acting for – the region.

What has made you the happiest lately in your region, and what could be better?

I am very pleased that, following a forced coronavirus hiatus, social life is back again and so are the different community groups. I cannot wait to meet all the volunteer firemen, athletes, hobbyists – basically anyone who will have me. What could be better? I feel that the most acute issue that will require a lot of help and input from my side in the future, and one that I have started working on, is the planning of the construction of the D3 highway in the Central Bohemian Region, especially around Miličín and Votice.

Are there more senators who keep close ties with their regions and their issues, or are the majority of them more closed off in a sort of a Senate “bubble,” only caring about “high politics”?

Sequestering oneself in the Lesser Town Palace bubble is a surefire way to hell in my view. That is why I chose to commute each day, to not lose touch with reality. I am certain that there are many senators with close ties to their regions who are active in their constituencies. My philosophy when it comes to being a senator is exactly that melding of regional and legislative work. I am certain that I could not be a good legislator without my regional work.

“I can say with a clear conscience that throughout my term, I have always made decisions to the best of my knowledge and conscience,” says Jaroslav Větrovský.

Jaroslav Větrovský (born on 31st July 1968 in Tábor) is a Senator and the Mayor of Mladá Vožice near Tábor.

He graduated from the Faculty of Education of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. He then started as a teacher in the primary school in Mladá Vožice. From 1996, he worked as the director of the primary school and kindergarten in Ratibořské Hory for six years.

He joined politics in 1998 when he was elected to the Mladá Vožice local council. Four years after the election, he became a part-time deputy mayor, and following another four years, he was elected mayor.

In 2014, he was voted Best Mayor of the South Bohemian Region for 2010-2014 in a Union o Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic competition.

In 2016, he found success in the elections, earning a seat in the Senate for the ANO movement.

He has been the chairman of the newly formed PROREGION Senator Club since 2020.

He is married and has two sons - Jan (25) and Jaroslav (22). He enjoys sports, mainly football, tennis, skiing and cycling. He also likes to read, especially non-fiction, historical books and medieval philosophy.

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