Legislation – staatsrecht.honikel.de

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Federal laws are enacted by the Bundestag together with the Bundesrat.


The main method

Procedure in the Bundestag

The Federal laws are decided by the Bundestag (Article 77 I S 1 GG). Before a bill could be adopted three readings (= consultation in the plenum) precede.

After the bill was transmitted to the Bundestag, it is distributed to each delegate. The bill is discussed now first in the parliamentary groups, the Council of Elders decides, when the first reading has to take place.

In the first reading a discussion takes place, with which the principles of the bill are discussed.

Afterwards the bill is passed on to the respective specialized committees. If more than one committee is suitable, then one of the committees will become the leading committee. In the respective committee the bill will be advised extensively, if necessary changed and adapted. Often hearings of experts take place.

In the second reading a detailed consultation of the individual regulations of the bill takes place due to the results of the committee meetings. Requests for modification can be placed by each individual delegate. There is a poll about all requests for modification.

After possible changes from the second reading are included into the bill, the third reading can take place. If no changes took up, the third reading can follow the second reading directly. The third reading covers again declarations of principle of the parliamentary groups. A single consultation is only made by requests for modification.

Now the bill will be accepted or refused. In principle the simple majority (majority of the delivered votes - Article 42 II GG -) is sufficient thereby. With laws containing a constitutional amendment a majority of 2/3 of the legal members of the Bundestag is necessary (Article 79 II GG).

After the acceptance of the bill in the Bundestag it is transmitted to the Bundesrat immediately (Article 77 I S 2 GG).

Article 77 I

Federal laws shall be adopted by the Bundestag. After their adoption the President of the Bundestag shall submit them to the Bundesrat without delay.

Because at the federal legislation, in contrast for example to the legislation of Baden-Wuerttemberg, two separate organs are involved - Bundestag and Bundesrat - we speak of a two-chamber system.

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Procedure in the Bundesrat / Mediation Committee

The kind of the co-operation of Bundesrat and Mediation Committee in the legislative procedure depends on whether the bill requires consent of the Bundesrat or not. If the wrong procedure is chosen the law is illegal in an formal sense.

Bills requiring consent

With bills requiring consent (for example with laws containing a constitutional amendment, Article 79 I, II GG, or with many federal laws, thus laws, that affect the land interests) the Bundesrat can agree and creating with that the condition for promulgation (Article 78 GG) or refuse the agreement and bring the bill to fall.

If the Bundesrat wants to reject, then it can call the Mediation Committee within three weeks after receipt of the law.

Also the Bundestag and the Federal Government have this calling right with bills requiring consent (Article 77 II GG).

Article 77 II a

Insofar as its consent is required for a bill to become law, the Bundesrat, if no request has been made pursuant to the first sentence of paragraph (2) of this Article or if the mediation proceeding has been completed without a proposal to amend the bill, shall vote on the bill within a reasonable time.

Mediation Committee

The Mediation Committee is a common committee of Bundestag and Bundesrat that advises about diversities of opinion between them in the legislation process. It can propose an amendment to change a law to a form whitch both sides could accept.

It consists of 16 members each of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The members of the Bundesrat are exeptionally not instruction-bound in the Mediation Committee.

If the Mediation Committee does not suggest changes, then the bill is transmitted to the Bundesrat for distribution or denial of the agreement.

If the Mediation Committee suggests changes or rather the abolition of the bill, then the bill is conveyed to the Bundestag for renewed adoption of resolutions ("4. reading"). The Bundestag either repeals the bill, agrees to the proposed amendments or rejects the changes.

In the form decided now by the Bundestag the bill, if it was not repealed, goes to the Bundesrat for final decision. A bill requiring consent can become law only with an explicit consent of the Bundesrat.

Article 77 II

Within three weeks after receiving an adopted bill, the Bundesrat may demand that a committee for joint consideration of bills, composed of Members of the Bundestag and of the Bundesrat, be convened. The composition and proceedings of this committee shall be regulated by rules of procedure adopted by the Bundestag and requiring the consent of the Bundesrat. The Members of the Bundesrat on this committee shall not be bound by instructions. When the consent of the Bundesrat is required for a bill to become law, the Bundestag and the Federal Government may likewise demand that such a committee be convened. Should the committee propose any amendment to the adopted bill, the Bundestag shall vote on it a second time.

Objection bills

With all remaining bills the consent of the Bundesrat is not necessary. The Bundesrat can lodge the objection against the bill (Article 77 III GG "dilatory veto"). The objection of the Bundesrat can maybe rejected through the Bundestag.

If the Bundesrat wants to lodge objection, then it must call the mediation committee before. The procedure at the mediation committee is the same like bills requiring consent.

If the Bundesrat lodges now objection, then the Bundestag can try, to reject this objection.

For this the "same" majority, like that with which the objection was inserted is necessary (Article 77 IV GG): If the objection was lodged with absolute majority, then an absolute majority is necessary for rejecting. If the objection was lodged with absolute 2/3-majority, then an relative 2/3-majority is necessary. This majority must be an absolute majority at the same time ("double qualified majority").

Article 77 III

Insofar as its consent is not required for a bill to become law, the Bundesrat, once proceedings under paragraph (2) of this Article are completed, may within two weeks object to a bill adopted by the Bundestag. The time for objection shall begin, in the case described in the last sentence of paragraph (2) of this Article, upon receipt of the bill as readopted by the Bundestag, and in all other cases upon receipt of a communication from the chairman of the committee provided for in paragraph (2) of this Article to the effect that the committees proceedings have been concluded.

If the objection could be rejected by the Bundestag, then the law could been signed and promulgated. If the objection could not be rejected, the law failed.

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Signing and promulgation

The decided law is signed by the Federal Government (by the Federal Chancellor or by the relevant Department Minister – countersignature) and afterwards signed by the Federal President.

He certifies the laws (Article 82 I S 1 GG) by dating and signing the original document and promulgating the law in the federal law gazette afterwards. During the signing the Federal President has a test right to formal and material unconstitutionality. In the material part the unconstitutionality had to be evident. He has no objective (political) test right (Article 82 I S 1 GG) and it is not allowed that he denies the signing because of personal reasons.

Article 82 I

Laws enacted in accordance with the provisions of this Basic Law shall, after counter-signature, be certified by the Federal President and promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette. Statutory instruments shall be certified by the agency that issues them and, unless a law otherwise provides, shall be promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette.

The laws are executed by the public Administration.

The changing of existing laws works with the same procedure.

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Legislation state of emergency (Article 81 GG)

The legislation state of emergency is a shorter legislation process for the case that a Federal Chancellor has no majority in parliament.

If a Federal Chancellor who failed with the question of confidence (Article 68 GG) remains in the office and the Bundestag has not been dissolved (Article 68 GG), then the Federal President can, with agreement of the Bundesrat, declare the legislation state of emergency for one bill which the Federal Government has designated as urgently.

If the Bundestag rejects the bill again after declaration of the legislation state of emergency, then the bill automatically becomes a law, if the Bundesrat agrees. A legislation state of emergency, which applies to 6 months, is only permissible once during the term of office of the same Federal Chancellor.

The Basic Law may not be amended or waived by such a law.

Article 81 I

If, in the circumstances described in Article 68, the Bundestag is not dissolved, the Federal President, at the request of the Federal Government and with the consent of the Bundesrat, may declare a state of legislative emergency with respect to a bill, if the Bundestag rejects the bill although the Federal Government has declared it to be urgent. The same shall apply if a bill has been rejected although the Federal Chancellor had combined it with a motion under Article 68.

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Statutory orders

The legislation process is a lengthy, complicated procedure. In order to relieve the legislation thereby ("law flood") and to be able to react fast to changing requirements there are statutory orders. These are material laws, which are issued by the executive, after authorization by the legislation.

According to Article 80 GG the legislation rules within which framework and to which extent statutory orders may issued (contents, purpose and extent).

In no case statutory orders may change or equally supplement laws. In addition the substantial, fundamental regulations of the legislation must be made by laws.

Statutory orders are located in rank under the formal laws.

Article 80 I

The Federal Government, a Federal Minister, or the Land governments may be authorized by a law to issue statutory instruments. The content, purpose, and scope of the authority conferred shall be specified in the law. Each statutory instrument shall contain a statement of its legal basis. If the law provides that such authority may be further delegated, such subdelegation shall be effected by statutory instrument.

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