Why Bills may not expire with dissolution of House

A sitting of the National Assembly.

A sitting of the National Assembly. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

MPs are pushing for a change in standing orders that will allow those who sponsored Bills in the current Parliament and will successfully defend their seats to continue pushing for the proposed laws.

Currently, an MP who is re-elected but had a JKUAT in the previous Parliament must restart the process.

Thirty Bills whose life was to end with the expiry of 12th Parliament have a lifeline should MPs amend the standing orders.

The National Assembly House Rules and Procedures Committee is reviewing changes to standing orders in a bid to exempt the Bills from the six-month pre-publication period.

The assembly is to adjourn indefinitely on June 16.

The intention, according to the committee, is to scrap unnecessary procedures that slow down legislation.

Another reason is to exempt MPs serving second terms or veteran members from winding procedures as new ones.

Should a sponsor of a Bill lose in elections, any member is liberty to pick the Bills.

However, the one picking it will have to start the process afresh since the exemption on pre-publication will not be extended to new members.

The House also wants to get away from the practice of depending on the Executive for business to transact, especially in its initial formative stages.

“We want a situation in which as the Executive is still settling down after elections, the House has business to transact instead of going on recess,” said an official helping the committee in reviewing the standing orders.

“The House has its calendar and cannot depend on the Executive. This can only be done through exempting these private members’ Bills from the pre-publication period.”

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said the changes would be welcome but was quick to add that there might be challenges as the incoming Parliament would be different from the present one.

The Bills already considered by the National Assembly and sent to the Senate for consideration will become extinct if the National Assembly does not change the standing orders.

Among those sent to the Senate for consideration is the National Blood Transfusion Service Bill, 2020 which is sponsored by the government.

The Bill passed by the National Assembly in July 2021 imposes a three-year prison sentence on entities that sell blood without the express authority of the Health Cabinet Secretary.

“Any person who collects, stores, issues, distributes or trades in blood and blood products in contravention of provisions of this Act commits an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or imprisonment to a term not exceeding three years or both,” it  reads.

Another at the Senate is the Sugar Bill, 2019 by Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi which seeks to revive the Kenya Sugar Board.

The Bill also seeks to give farmers more say in the management of millers by apportioning them a 51 per cent shareholding in those that have been privatised.

Also awaiting the nod of the Senate is the Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that was sponsored by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni.

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