The legislative arm of Kenyan government is the bicameral parliament which consists of the National Assembly and the Senate.
The new Kenya Constitution has created a two-chamber Parliament; the National Assembly (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House). The National Assembly will have 290 members elected from constituencies, 47 women each elected from the counties and 12 members nominated by parliamentary political parties according to their strength in the National Assembly (Article 90) to represent special interests: the youth, people with disabilities and workers. The other member of the National Assembly, in ex official capacity, is the Speaker.
The role of the National Assembly will be to enact legislation, determine the allocation of revenue between the levels of Government, oversee national revenue, expenditure and State organs and approve declaration of war and extensions of states of emergency.
The specific roles of the national assembly are:
- Members of the national assembly are obligated to represent their constituents and all the special interests within their respective constituencies
- Enactment of legislation for both county and national government
- Approval or disapproval of revenue allocation presented by the senate, determining the national distribution across the counties.
- Check the conduct of the executive and other state officers and if necessary initiate the process of removal of president, deputy president and other state officers.
- Exercise oversight over state organs and approve the state of emergency and declaration of war.
The Senate will have 47 members each elected from a county, 16 women members nominated by political parties according to their strength in the senate (Article 90), two members (a man and a woman) representing the youth, two members (a man and a woman) representing people with disabilities), and the Speaker who will be an ex ofﬁcio member.
The Senate shall be the backbone of the counties, and its actions will determine the effectiveness of the devolved units in delivering services to Kenyans.
The Senate represents the counties and protects their interests. It participates in lawmaking, debates and approves Bills concerning counties (Articles 109-113). It determines the allocation of national revenue among counties (Article 217), and exercises oversight over national revenue allocated to the county governments. The Senate participates in the oversight of State officers by determining resolutions to remove the President or Deputy President from office (Articlel45).
The roles of the Kenya Senate under the new constitution are:
- Debate and approve county bills
- Determine the allocation of national revenue to be distributed according to the counties
- Represent the interests of the counties at the national level
- Consider and determine the resolution of impeachment of the president or his/her deputy
The second function of the bicameral parliament will be to create an appellate hierarchy in the enactment of laws, i.e. giving an opportunity to one chamber to review laws and decisions of the other chamber.
The Senate is supposed to be both reactive and proactive. Article 109 allows a Bill concerning a county to originate from the Senate (but it must be considered by the National Assembly from which it did not originate (Articles 111 and 112).
If a Bill relates to election of members of county assemblies or a county executive (also called a ‘Special Bill’ under Article 111), it may be vetoed by the National Assembly through a resolution supported by two-thirds of its members.
The legislature of Kenya has been summarized to include the following