A Bill is a legislative proposal or a proposed law at post-publication stage that seeks to enact a new law, to anchor a policy into a law, amend or repeal an existing law. Legislative Authority at the County level is vested in the County Assembly and is exercised through passage of Bills. The Standing Orders envisage two types of Bills:-
• Private Bill - any Bill which is intended to affect or benefit a particular person, association or corporate body;
• Public Bill - a Bill which is intended to affect a section of the public or the public in general.
A Bill may be introduced by any Member or Committee of the County Assembly, but a Money Bill may be introduced only after it has been considered by the Budget and Appropriations Committee. A Money Bill as provided for in section 21 of the County Governments Act contains provisions dealing with-
ii) the imposition of charges on a public fund or the variation or repeal of any of those charges;
iii) the appropriation, receipt, custody, investment or issue of public money;
iv) the raising or guaranteeing of any loan or its repayment;
The Law Making Process
A Bill undergoes the following stages before it becomes a law:-
A) Presentation of the Legislative Proposal
A Member or a Committee submits a legislative proposal together with a memorandum setting out its objectives and matters specified in Standing Order 118 (Memorandum of objectives and reasons) to the Speaker. The Speaker then refers the legislative proposal and the memorandum to the Clerk who considers it by drafting it in proper form where necessary and submits it back to the speaker with comments on-
(i) Whether the legislative proposal is a draft money Bill in terms of Article 114 of the Constitution; and
(ii) Whether the legislative proposal conforms to the Constitution and the law and is in order as to format and style in accordance with the Standing Orders.
b) Pre-publication Scrutiny
Upon receipt of Comments from the Clerk, and the Speaker is of the opinion that the draft Bill is a money Bill, it is referred to the Budget and Appropriations Committee and shall thereupon proceed in a accordance with the recommendations of the Committee after considering the views of the County Executive Committee Member in charge of the Finance docket. If the legislative proposal has no Committee in charge, the Speaker refers it to the relevant Committee for pre-publication scrutiny and comments and the Committee shall submit its comments to the Speaker within 14 days. After receiving the recommendations, the Speaker shall direct that the Bill either proceeds for publication or it is inadmissible.
If the Speaker certifies that the legislative proposal is acceptable, the proposal is published as a Bill in the County Gazzette and the Kenya Gazzete. Upon publication, the Clerk avails a copy of the Bill to every Member. The publication period of any Bill is fourteen days (14) except a County Revenue Fund Bill, an Appropriation Bill or a Supplementary Appropriation Bill which is seven (7) days. However, the Assembly may reduce the publication period through a Resolution.
d) First Reading
Every bill is read a first time without question being put on the order of the day for First Reading. The Clerk reads the whole title and no debate ensues thereafter. A Bill having been read a First time is deemed to be committed to the relevant Sectoral Committee, unless a specific Committee has been established for that purpose, without the question being put. The Committee facilitates public participation and takes public recommendations which are considered when the Chair presents the Committee’s report to the House. The report must be made within 20 Calendar days upon which the Bill shall be read a second time. If the period elapses before the Committee presents its report, the Chair must report progress.
e) Second Reading
On the order of the day of Second Reading, a motion shall be made that, “That the (..title of the Bill..) Bill be now read a second time. The mover then explains the principles of the Bill and key policy issues involved followed by debate on the general principles of the Bill.
f) Committee of the whole House
After the Second Reading, a Bill is committed to the Committee of the whole County Assembly, the Speaker leaves the Chair without question being put. The rules of debate are relaxed as signified by the lowering of the mace by the Sergeant-at-arms. The Chairperson of Committee of the Whole Assembly presides. Standing Order 128 provides the procedure in the Committee of the Whole Assembly. In the Committee, the Bill is considered in the following sequence: –
i) clauses as printed, excluding the clauses providing for the citation of the Bill, the commencement, if any, and the interpretation;
ii) new clauses
iv) new schedules
vi) preamble, if any
vii) long title
viii) the clauses providing for the citation of the Bill and the commencement.
The Clerk calls severally each part of the Bill in the sequence specified above and if no amendment is proposed or when all proposed amendments have been disposed of, the Chairperson shall propose the question “That, .... (as amended) stand part of the Bill”. Members may move amendments to the Bill which must be submitted to the Clerk twenty four (24) hours after the commencement of the siting. Amendments which propose to unreasonably or unduly expand the subject of the Bill or are not appropriate or logical are not allowed. A member may interrupt the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole House to another day by moving a motion that the Committee reports progress.
g) Report Stage
When a Committee of the Whole County Assembly has agreed that a Bill or a number of Bills be reported, the Chairperson leaves the Chair of the Committee and the County Assembly shall resume, and if the Chairperson has taken the Speaker’s Chair, the Member in charge of the Bill report the Bill to the County Assembly. Each Bill is reported separately incase several bills were being considered at the same time in the Committee.
h) Third Reading
The stage may be taken immediately after report stage (after adoption of the report) or on a later date as the Speaker may decide. At this stage a motion is made, “That the ….Bill be now read a Third Time”. Amendments may be moved.
After the passage of a Bill by the County Assembly, the Speaker within fourteen days forwards it to the Governor who shall within fourteen (14) days either assent to it or refer it back to the County Assembly with a memorandum outlining reasons for the referral.
If the Bill is referred back, the County Assembly may amend it taking into account issues raised by the Governor or pass it without amendment by a vote supported by two- thirds of members of the County Assembly.
If the Bill is passed with the concerns of the Governor, the Speaker submits it within fourteen days to the Governor for Assent. However, if it is passed for a second time without consideration of the Governors concerns, the Speaker shall forward it to the Governor for assent within seven (7) days and if the Governor declines to assent, it will automatically become a law after the expiry of the seven days period.
ix) Gazettement (Coming into force of law)
A legislation passed by the County Assembly and assented to by the Governor shall be published in the County Gazette and Kenya Gazette within seven days after assent. The Legislation comes into force on the fourteenth day after its publication in the county Gazette and Kenya Gazette, whichever comes earlier, unless the legislation stipulates a different date on or time at which it shall come into force.