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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Bill?

A Bill is a draft law introduced in Parliament for debate. The person in whose name a Bill is proposed is referred to as the sponsor of the Bill.

What is a legislative proposal?

A legislative proposal is an idea for a Bill.

Where does the idea of a Bill come from?

The legislative proposal or idea for a Bill can come from several sources: Senators, Committees of the Senate, the Executive, professional organizations, lobbyists or individuals. While the idea for a Bill may come from any person, a Bill must have a Sponsor in order to be introduced in the Senate. The sponsor can either be a Senator or a Committee of the Senate.

What happens after an idea for a Bill is formed?

The Sponsor of a Bill submits the idea for a Bill to the Speaker. This may be done by filling out an instruction note indicating briefly the idea of the Bill and making reference to any useful resources. The Speaker then refers the legislative proposal to the Clerk for drafting by the Directorate of Legal Services.

What is a public Bill?

A public Bill is a Bill which proposes a law of general application throughout the jurisdiction in which it is proposed to be passed.

What is a private Bill?

A private Bill is a Bill designed to provide a benefit or exemption to an individual or group from the application of the law, such as a Bill to exempt a certain class of individuals from paying tax.

What is a special Bill?

A special Bill, under the Constitution, is a Bill that affects the functions of a county government and which relates to the election of members of a county assembly or a county executive or is the annual County Allocation of Revenue Bill.

What is an ordinary Bill?

An ordinary Bill is a Bill which is neither a Money Bill nor a special Bill.

What is a money Bill?

A Money Bill is a Bill that contains provisions dealing with taxes; the imposition of charges on a public fund or the variation or repeal of any of those charges; the appropriation, receipt, custody, investment or issue of public money; the raising or guaranteeing of any loan or its repayment. A Money Bill can only be introduced in the National Assembly.

What is the Directorate of Legal Services?

The Directorate of Legal Services is the directorate in the Senate whose core mandate is to draft Bills on the instructions of and in consultation with a Senator. Once a legislative proposal has been submitted to the Directorate, a Legal Counsel in the Directorate will be assigned to draft the Bill and to ensure that it conforms to the Constitution, existing law and the drafting style of the Senate.

What happens after a draft Bill is developed?

The draft Bill, duly signed by the Sponsor is forwarded by the Clerk to the Speaker (with comments on whether it affects or does not affect counties, is a money Bill and conforms to the Constitution and to the Law as to format and style). Where the Sponsor of the Bill is a Senator, the Speaker refers the draft Bill to the relevant Committee for pre-publication scrutiny and comments. The Committee is required to submit its comments to the Speaker within fourteen days of receipt of the draft Bill. After receiving comments on the Bill from the relevant committee, the Speaker may certify that the draft Bill is ready for publication, in which case the Directorate of Legal Services then forwards the Bill to the Government printer for publication.

Who publishes Bills?

Bills are published by the Government Printer in the Kenya Gazette and assigned a number in order of transmission to the Government Printer for publishing. Bills introduced in the Senate are blue in color while those introduced in the National Assembly are green. Once a Bill has been published, the Clerk avails a copy for each Senator.

What happens after a Bill is published?

After publication and before First Reading of a Bill, the Speaker of the Senate seeks the agreement of the Speaker of the National Assembly on whether the Bill concerns Counties and if it does, whether it is a special or ordinary Bill.

So, when is the Bill introduced in the Senate?

A Bill is introduced in the Senate after fourteen days of publication. The Division of Revenue Bill and the County Allocation of Revenue Bills, however, are introduced after seven days of publication.

How does a Bill become law?

In order for a Bill to become a law, it must go through a number of stages in both the Senate and the National Assembly. These stages as set out below are similar in both Houses-

What is First Reading?

This occurs when a Bill is introduced in Parliament. A Bill is read a first time by the Clerk reading only the title of the Bill.

What is Committal to the relevant Committee and public participation?

After the First Reading, the Bill is automatically referred to the relevant standing committee. The committee is required to facilitate public participation and to take into account the views of the public when it makes its report to the Senate. The committee is required to submit its report to the Senate within thirty 30 calendar days. The Committee carries out public participation, obtains the views of the members of the public on the Bill and prepares a report within the period specified above. The Committee then tables the report before the House.

What is Second Reading?

During this stage, the Senators debate the essence and principles of the Bill and give their views on the Bill.

What is Committee of the Whole?

This is a Committee composed of all Senators in plenary. At Committee, the Senate considers the Bill clause by clause and may amend the clauses. Any Senator, other than the sponsor of the Bill, who wishes to move an amendment to the Bill, must give written notification of the amendment to the Clerk at least twenty four (24) hours before commencement of the sitting at which the amendment is to be considered.

What is Third Reading?

Once Committee of the whole on a Bill is concluded, the Bill is reported back to the Senate. On adoption of the report on the Bill, the Bill is read a third time. No amendments maybe moved at this stage except amending the motion to defer or postpone the third reading of the Bill to a future date.

What is Concurrence of the National Assembly?

A Bill that is passed by the Senate must be submitted to the National Assembly. A certified copy of the Bill is forwarded to the Clerk of the National Assembly together with a Message signed by the Speaker requesting concurrence of the Assembly. If the National Assembly agrees with the Bill and does not propose any amendments, the Senate forwards the Bill to the President for assent.

If the National Assembly proposes amendments to the Bill, the amendments are submitted to the Senate and are circulated to the Senators. The amendments are then considered in the Committee of the Whole. The Senate may then pass the Bill by including all the amendments or may reject any or all the amendments. Where an amendment is rejected, the Bill is referred to a mediation committee.

What is a Mediation Committee?

Whenever the Senate does not agree to any of the amendments proposed by the National Assembly or rejects a Motion that a Bill which originated in the National Assembly be read a second or third time, the Speakers of both Houses appoint a Mediation Committee, consisting of an equal number of Senators and Members of the National Assembly to develop a version of the Bill that is agreeable to both Houses.

What happens if the mediation committee fails to agree on a Bill?

If within thirty (30) days the mediation Committee fails to agree on a version of the Bill, the Bill will be deemed to be lost. If the Committee agrees on a version that is passed by both Houses, the Bill is passed.

What is Presidential Assent?

Once a Bill originating in the Senate has been passed by both Houses, the Speaker refers the concluded Bill to the President for assent. The President is required within fourteen (14) days to either assent to the Bill or refer the Bill back to the Senate for reconsideration noting any reservations by the President.

What happens when a Bill is referred back to Parliament by the President?

Parliament may either amend the Bill in light of the President’s reservations or pass it a second time without amendments or with amendments that do not fully accommodate the President’s reservations.

What is Publication of the law?

Once a Bill has been assented to, the Bill is published as an Act of Parliament within seven days after assent. An Act of Parliament comes into force on the fourteenth day after its publication in the Gazette unless the Act provides for a different date or time.