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The Senate at Work

The Making of an Ordinary Law

A draft law is known as a bill. Under the Constitution, a bill may be introduced by any member of Parliament, the Government, the people [in which case, the bill must be signed by no less than fifty thousand voters], a Regional Council, or the National Council of the Economy and Labour, for matters falling within its terms of reference.
A bill must have a title, an explanatory report and a regulatory part divided into sections. The Senate provides drafting services to senators to help them to appropriately word a bill.
The introduction of a bill is announced by the President before the Senate and the bill is then printed for distribution. The President decides to which Standing Committee the bill should be referred for consideration, informing the Senate.
The Standing Committee to which a bill is referred may consider the bill:

  • in a reporting capacity, in which case the bill is debated in the Committee which may propose amendments before returning it to the Senate for further debate and a vote;
  • in a drafting capacity, in which case the Committee votes on individual sections of the bill before returning it to the Senate for the final vote on the whole measure, to be preceded by a session at which the Parliamentary Groups explain how they intend to vote on the measure;
  • in a legislative capacity, in which case the bill is either rejected or adopted in the Committee, which votes on it article by article before the final vote is taken on the whole bill.

A bill may also be referred to a Committee for an opinion providing guidelines to the Committee to which the bill has been referred for consideration: in this case, the Committee sits in an advisorycapacity.
When a bill has been considered by a Committee in a reporting capacity, the rapporteur makes a written report [or oral, in case of urgency] to the Senate. A general debate is then held on the bill, which is concluded by the remarks of the rapporteur and the representative of the Government. After the general debate, each section of the bill is considered separately: amendments to the section and then the whole section are put to the vote. When this process is over, a vote is held on the whole bill.
After a bill has been passed, the Senate staff prepare the so-called "message": the bill, as passed by the Senate, is signed by the President and sent to the Chamber of Deputies. A bill that has already been passed by the Chamber and has been approved by the Senate without any amendments is sent to the President of the Republic for promulgation and publication in the Official Gazette.
In order for a bill to become a national law, it must therefore be passed by both Houses of Parliament in the same text. If a bill passed by one House is amended in the other, it is referred back to the House that first passed it.

Additional informations