Senators, MPs in fresh round of turf wars

President William Ruto inside the Senate chambers when he opened the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) plenary sitting at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Senate and National Assembly has once again locked horns over Bills.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot complained that Bills originating from the Senate were being dropped at the second reading stage in the National Assembly over what he termed as an abuse of the legislative mandate.

Cheruiyot cited the Natural Resources (Benefit Sharing) Bill, 2022 and Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which had been passed by the Senate but were dropped by the Senate.

“It has always been my position which I have even shared with my colleagues on the minority side that unless a Bill is flawed, it is an abuse of the legislative procedure to drop it at the second reading stage. The Senate has always handled Bills from the National Assembly well,” he said.

The Kericho Senator lamented that the Natural Resources (Benefit Sharing) Bill, 2022 has been laying in Parliament for more than 10 years. Its was meant to provide a formula for sharing of proceeds of natural resources between counties, communities and national government.

Cheruiyot noted that the Employment Bill 2022 was meant to allow employees to disconnect from work entitlement so as not to be contacted by the employer during out-of-work hours as per the employer’s policy.

“I am calling on the Senate Speaker Amason Kingi to file a complaint with National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula on the manner in which Bills from the Senate are being treated yet we have always handled bills from the National Assembly expeditiously,” said Kingi.

Kingi informed the senators that he had received the complaint and would take up the matter with Wetangula but called on them to exploit the provision of the House rules that provides for co-sponsorship of Bills with the National Assembly for smooth consideration of the same.

The Speaker said that co-sponsorship is one of the ways that they can use to avoid unnecessary wrangles with MPs since one Bill may be considered extremely important by the Senate while the National Assembly may not it in the same way.

Since the advent of the bi-cameral Parliament in 2013, the two Houses have engaged in supremacy battles despite the Constitution clearly defining their roles and the High Court in 2020 annulling some 23 Acts that were passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President without the involvement of the Senate.

Article 96 of the Constitution provides that the Senate participates in the law-making function of Parliament by considering, debating and approving Bills concerning counties.

However, the law bars the Senate from considering money Bills that impose taxes and levies while the National Assembly on the other hand, considers all Bills.

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