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8 stages all bills go through before assent by the President

This process involves several stages from the initial drafting of a bill to its final approval and assent by the President

President William Ruto signs a document at State House, Nairobi on May 2, 2024
  • The law-making process in Kenya is structured and involves multiple stages with thorough scrutiny and public participation
  • The process starts with the drafting of a bill, which can be initiated by the government, individual members of parliament, or private entities
  • If the bill passes both houses of parliament, it is presented to the President for assent within 14 days

The law-making process in Kenya is a structured and multi-stage procedure designed to ensure thorough scrutiny, public participation, and adherence to constitutional principles.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of how a bill becomes law in Kenya:

The process begins with the drafting of a bill. This can be initiated by the government, individual members of parliament, or private entities.

The draft bill is typically prepared by legal experts to ensure it is comprehensive and aligns with existing laws and the Constitution.

Once the bill is drafted, it is introduced to the National Assembly. The first reading involves the formal presentation of the bill’s title and objectives.

No debate on the bill’s content occurs at this stage. The primary purpose is to inform members of parliament (MPs) and the public of the proposed legislation.

During the second reading, MPs debate the general principles and merits of the bill. This stage is crucial as it allows for a detailed discussion on the bill’s intent, potential impact, and relevance.

MPs may support, oppose, or suggest amendments to the bill. At the end of the debate, a vote is taken. If the bill passes this stage, it moves to the committee stage.

The bill is referred to a relevant parliamentary committee for detailed examination. This committee can be a standing committee, a departmental committee, or a select committee.

The committee stage involves a clause-by-clause analysis of the bill. Public participation is often invited at this stage, allowing stakeholders and citizens to present their views and suggestions.

The committee can recommend amendments to the bill based on their findings and public input.

After the committee stage, the bill, along with any proposed amendments, is reported back to the National Assembly.

During the report stage, MPs debate the committee’s recommendations and may suggest further amendments. This stage ensures that the bill has been thoroughly vetted and refined.

The third reading is the final debate on the bill in the National Assembly. At this stage, MPs discuss the bill as amended during the committee and report stages. The focus is on the final form of the bill.

A vote is then taken. If the bill is approved, it proceeds to the Senate if it concerns county governments or directly to the President if it does not.

If the bill affects county governments, it is sent to the Senate for consideration. The Senate follows a similar process: first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage, and third reading.

The Senate’s role is to ensure that the interests of counties are taken into account. If the Senate makes amendments, the bill is returned to the National Assembly for concurrence.

If there is a disagreement between the National Assembly and the Senate on the amendments, a mediation committee is formed.

This committee, consisting of members from both houses, seeks to resolve the differences and produce a version of the bill acceptable to both houses.

If the committee reaches an agreement, the bill is passed by both houses and proceeds to the President. If not, the bill fails.

Once both houses of parliament pass the bill, it is presented to the President for assent. The President has 14 days to assent to the bill or refer it back to parliament with reservations.

If the President refers the bill back, parliament can reconsider it and make the necessary changes.

If parliament passes the bill again with or without amendments, the President must assent to it. Once the President gives assent, the bill becomes law and is published in the Kenya Gazette.

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