In this post, I draw a few distinctions between the Louisiana Legislature and the Kenya Legislature. I had the privilege of visiting the Louisiana Legislature at Baton Rouge, Louisiana on 19th June 2019. Like Kenya, their legislature is bicameral but there are a few broad differences between these two Parliaments.
Below is a quick sketch.
#1 Composition and membership
♦ Total members 144 (Senate-39; House of Representatives-105)
— One senator is elected from each senatorial district
— One representative elected from each representative district
♦ Total members 416 (excluding the Speakers) (Senate-67; National Assembly-349)
#2 Term of office
♦ Members may serve up to 3 consecutive four-year terms (12 years) in each House
♦ No term limits for Members of Parliament in their five-year terms.
♦ The House of Representatives is led by the Speaker of the House, and Speaker Pro Tempore (Temporary Speaker), both elected by the membership of the House
♦ The Senate is led by the President of the Senate, and President Pro Tempore, both elected by the membership of the Senate
♦ The National Assembly and the Senate are led by their Speakers. We have Deputy Speakers in the respective Houses
♦ Unlike Louisiana where the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate vies and is elected first before election as a presiding officer, in Kenya, one does not need to vie and win a Member of Parliament seat first before seeking election as a Speaker. ( See Art. 106 of the Constitution of Kenya)
♦ Their Regular Session is of two kinds: General Session and Fiscal Session.
— The General Session is conducted in even numbered years and it convenes on 2nd Monday in March. In this session, no new taxes, tax increases, exemptions, exclusions, deductions, credits, rebates, incentives or abatements may be introduced or enacted.
— The Fiscal Session is conducted in odd numbered years and it convenes on 2nd Monday in April. In this session, no matters shall be introduced or considered unless related to fiscal (money) matters or local/special laws.
♦ Kenya’s Regular Session is a motley mix. While in Louisiana, we ate the Gumbo dish. We were told that the dish has shrimp and chicken and other things. More of a little bit of this and that. It was delicious. Kenya’s Regular Session is like Gumbo. There is nothing like Fiscal Session or General Session. Everything is handled in a Regular Session: a Bill on wildlife will be considered alongside a Division of Revenue Bill, a Finance Bill or an Appropriation Bill.
#5 Legislative Process
♦ A Bill may be introduced either in the House of Representatives or the Senate
♦ When a Bill has been considered by the other House, it is reviewed by the Legislative Bureau before Third Reading
♦ If a Bill is returned by the Senate with amendments and the House rejects it, it is sent to the Conference Committee to resolve differences
♦ Governor may veto a Bill
Source: Louisiana State Legislature
♦ A Bill may originate either in the Senate or the National Assembly but only money Bills may be introduced in the National Assembly
♦ In Louisiana Legislature, they have Concurrence Committee whereas in Kenya Legislature we have Mediation Committee
♦ There is the concept of Bills concerning county governments
♦ There is pre-publication scrutiny conducted on legislative proposals before they are published as Bills
♦ In Louisiana, the Governor vetoes the Bill whereas in Kenya the President makes reservations on the Bill
ayes & nays