Kenya Study Tour 2011 visits D.C. and Wisconsin
When Kenyans passed a new constitution in August 2010, the mandate was to set up a Presidential system with a bi-cameral parliament and the creation of a Senate. The Kenya National Assembly Committee on Procedures and House Rules is now revising its rules of procedure and developing rules for the new Senate. In this context, the Speaker of the Parliament asked that the Parliamentary Support Project administered by SUNY Center for International Development to organize a study tour June 25-July 2 with visits to Britain, the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. and the Wisconsin State Legislature. The purpose of the visit was to exchange ideas with legislative leaders and staff regarding key issues of bicameral coordination and joint house responsibilities on oversight, executive appointments, impeachment and public participation in legislative activity.
The Kenya delegation of 10 MPs and staff was lead by Hon. Gitobu Imanyara, currently a member of the Speaker’s Panel. Hon. Gitobu was instrumental to the success of the previous review of the Standing Orders adopted by the House in December 2008. He also represents the National Assembly in the Pan-African Parliament.
While in Washington, SUNY/CID arranged a roundtable discussion with notable constitutional, rules and governance experts for discussions on such topics as oversight responsibilities in both Houses, budget making responsibilities in both houses, vetting and appointments, and impeachment responsibilities. In addition, the Congressional House Democracy Partnership (HDP) staff and Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, assisted SUNY/CID to set up key meetings with staff from The Congressional Research Service, the House Rules Committee, the House Parliamentarian, the House Judiciary sub-committee on the Constitution, the House Budget Committee, and the Senate Rules Committee. The Delegation was also privileged to be received by Senator John Boozman, R-AR.
The delegation was greeted in Madison, Wisc., by Sen. Fred A. Risser, the longest serving state senator in the country, the Chief Clerks of both houses and Donald Schneider, retired Chief Clerk of the Wisconsin Senate. The delegation also met with the chief clerks to discuss the rules and procedures of their respective houses as well as meetings with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Accountability Board and The House and Senator Majority and Minority Leaders. Wisconsin is known as a good model for a bi-cameral legislature.
Of interest to the delegation were the centralized service agencies that served both houses, and in particular the work of the Fiscal Bureau, which supports the budget process, and the Accountability Board, which is responsible for elections, campaign financing reports, lobbyists and ethics. Considering the commendation of this experience, the delegation expressed interest for continued contact with the Wisconsin legislature.
In his letter of thanks to SUNY/CID, the Kenyan Clerk of Parliament stated that “It is no doubt that the lessons learnt by the Delegation at the Congress and the Wisconsin State Legislature will go a long way to informing our rules of procedure and the management of parliamentary affairs as we transit to bicameralism.” This program was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID).
Posted: August 23, 2011