House Passed ‘79 Laws’ in 2016

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Statistics from the offices of the Chief Clerk showed that a total of 79 proposed laws were acted upon by the House of Representatives during its 5th Sitting, including Extraordinary Sittings.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sponsored and ensured that 73 of the laws submitted were endorsed by the Lower House, while the remaining six laws were sponsored by lawmakers.

The 5th Session of the 53rd Legislature started on the second working Monday, January 11, and ended on Tuesday, August 30, 2016. In order to discuss and act upon matters of national concern, the Legislature was recalled twice from their annual constituency break. The Legislature’s 1st Extraordinary
Session started on Thursday, September 1 and ended on Wednesday, October 5; while the 2nd Extraordinary Session ran from Tuesday, November 8 to Thursday, December 8.

The 79 laws represent the highest number of laws approved by the House of Representatives (or ratified by the Lower House) in a year since the advent of the first Sirleaf administration in 2006.

According to research, in the 52nd Legislature, the House of Representatives enacted 194 laws in six Sessions (2006 – 2011): 10 lawsin 2006; 24 in 2007; 51 in 2008; 39 in 2009; 38 in 2010 and 20 in 2011.

Many believe that the low number of laws passed by the House of Representatives from 2006 – 2007 was because of the unpleasant situation between the then House Speaker Edwin M. Snowe and President Sirleaf – Speaker Snowe was removed in April 2007 and replaced with J. Alex Tyler, who was unanimously elected to take his place.

As of the 53rd Legislature, less than 40 laws were passed during 2012 and 2013; but in 2014 and 2015, 50 and 43 laws were approved by the House of Representatives respectively.

As it was in 2007, the just ended 5th Session of 2016 that resulted in the ousting of Speaker Tyler saw the highest number of laws being approved – a year which also saw an unprecedented two sessions and change of leadership.

In 2016, however, about 55 laws were approved under the Speakership of J. Alex Tyler (January thru August) while 24 laws were endorsed under Pro Tempore Hans Barchue (Deputy Speaker) and the current Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay (September – December).

Some of the laws passed during Tyler’s tenure included the Police and Immigration Acts; An Act to Ratify the Protocol on the Accession of the Republic of Liberia to the World Trade Organization; An Act to Ratify the Loan Agreement Development of “Gbarnga-Salayea” road project between the Republic of
Liberia and The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa; and about 13 protocols adopting the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, among others.

Some of the laws approved under Speaker Nuquay were the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC); An Act to Repeal Decree No. 14 of the People’s Redemption Council of the Armed Forces of Liberia; and to create a new chapter 89 of the Executive Law establishing the National Social Security & Welfare

Corporation of the Republic of Liberia; An Act to Amend the Liberia Revenue Code of 2011 and to Repeal the Economic Stimulus Tax Amendment Act of 2016 to provide for the Economic Empowerment Tax Amendment Act of 2016; and the Affirmative Action For Equitable Participation And Representation Act, among others.

Meanwhile, members of the 53rd Legislature in compliance with their constitutional mandate are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, January 16, 2017 to officially begin the 6th and last session of the 53rd Legislature. The mandate, as provided for in Article 32 (a) of the 1986 Constitution states that the Legislature shall assemble in regular session once a year on the second working Monday in January.

The official ceremony is expected to be graced by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, members of the Cabinet and Foreign Missions accredited near Monrovia.

Others expected to be in attendance include heads of political parties, the Clergy, heads of Civil Society Groups, local and international NGOs, eminent citizens, among others.

Accordingly, the lawmakers will host their County flags and later gather at the main entrance of the Capitol Building; the Vice President and Speaker will lead the procession to the respective Chambers for the formal opening of the 6th session at their respective Chambers to be climaxed by refreshment.

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