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Hon. Kimunya roots for co-sponsorship of Bills to mitigate Sibling Rivalry between the two Houses

The Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly, Hon.(Dr)Amos Kimunya has proposed that Parliamentary Houses should explore the idea of co-sponsorship of Bill's as a means to negating sibling that has characterised the bicameral Parliament for the last seven years since its inception.

Speaking during the opening session of the 3rd National Assembly Retreat at Ole Sereni hotel, Nairobi, Hon. Kimunya underscored the fact that Parliament is collectively vested with the legislative authority which is derived from the people of Kenya.

He noted that while the Senate has continued to channel money Bills contrary to the Constitution, there was need to find solutions to end this impasse that is a recipe for the death of progressive legislative proposals from the Senate, which when transmitted to the National Assembly for consideration, die naturally for offending clear provisions of the Constitution.

"The unfortunate outcome calls us to think of ways we can negate sibling rivalry and find solutions. In the end what counts to Wanjiku is not what we did or Senate did; they know us as Parliament and thus we should learn to work together", he submitted.

He further submitted that there was need to manoeuvre the intricacies that come with the manner in which Article 109 (5) of the Constitution is couched so that in the end, both Houses can execute their legislative roles effectively.

" Additionally, we must not forget that in the end what matters is not from whom the legislative solution came from but what legislation achieves in terms of resolving issues of concern to the people", read a section of his statement.

He noted that the concept of co-sponsorship is not novel in Parliamentary parlance as in the US Congress, co-sponsorship of Bills is applied between the House of Representatives and the Senate helping to push legislation through the Houses with ease and in a manner that avoids rivalry.

In executing this proposal, two suggestions have been offered. Firstly, Dr. Kimunya submitted that the Senate Bills would be allowed to proceed to Second Reading subject to the provisions in the Bills that have money Bill effect in terms of Article 114 of the Constitution being expunged. The co-sponsor of the Bill in the National  Assembly would then pick the expunged money Bill provisions and thereafter introduce them at the Committee of the Whole House as Committee stage amendments.

Notably though, this proposal would not cushion the amendments to the usual motions of Article 114 of the Constitution where the Committee on Budget and Appropriations would have to consider them and make an appropriate verdict.

With regard to the unpublished Senate Bills, Dr. Kimunya proposed that the two Speakers agree to issue guidelines in both Houses for co-sponsorship of Bills. He also suggested that in the case of National Assembly Bills, Members should nominate co-sponsors in the Senate with respect to all proposals including government and Committee Bills.  

This, he believes would create a legislative process that allows the original sponsor of the Bill together with the co-sponsor to share information on the objects of the Bill, and marshall for its support in the respective Houses.

Hon. Kimunya also called on the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to fast-track the consideration of the Mediation Bill that is currently before the Committee with a view to progressively enact an alternative dispute resolution mechanisms which will ultimately in future avert litigation between the two Houses.

He regretted that the number of court cases where the National Assembly is a party have been risen over the years to about forty (40) by December, 2019.

" Whenever the Houses of Parliament take each other to court, who wins? Who is the ultimate loser? Who pays the lawyers? Is it not the people we represent who suffer? Is this a prudent use of public resources?", he posed.

Later in the same forum, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Justin Muturi in his key address to the forum stressed the need for bipartisanship in legislative development, adding that the Constitution had envisaged the same when it established the two Houses under one Parliament.

He called on the Members of Budget and Appropriations Committee prepare and plan early for the consideration of the County Allocation Bill after its determination in the Senate. He urged the House to this time give the matter serious consideration, noting that last year, the House had allowed the legal timeline lapse without proposing any amendments.

" The Third Formula on Revenue Allocation is up for determination in terms of Article 217 of the Constitution. Whereas I do not intend to deliberate on the matter and happenings in the Senate, permit me to remind us that soon the matter will also be before us in accordance with the requirements of Article 217 (4) of the Constitution for our consideration and approval", he said