The first of four functions of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature is to make laws for the province. Essentially, this means the GPL has a duty to improve the quality of life for the people of Gauteng by creating laws that are just and responsive to the people’s needs.
How does the Legislature make laws for the province?
Every potential law starts out as a Bill. When someone identifies a need for a new law – be it an MPL, Member of the Provincial Executive or member of the public – their idea is submitted to one of the 14 Committees of the Legislature, where it is discussed as a Bill.
After the idea has been submitted, the Committee then goes through (the Bill) carefully to establish whether it is relevant, clear, practical and in line with the South African Constitution.
Once a Bill has been accepted by a Committee as meeting the criteria above, it is published in the Provincial Gazette as a ‘Memorandum’. A memorandum is always explained in simple language for all Citizens to understand.
After a Memorandum has been published, the people of Gauteng are given 14 days to review the Bill and submit their comments to the relevant Committee of the Legislature. It is only after this period that the Bill is formally introduced to The House for further discussion.
The Speaker of the Legislature, who is the highest presiding officer of the Legislature, then refers the Bill to the relevant Committee for further discussion. At this stage the Committee would then organise a public hearing – where the people of Gauteng are invited to discuss the Bill further.
After this process, the Committee makes all proposed amendments to the Bill and considers all comments and expert advice, after which a FINAL REPORT goes to the ‘Sitting of the Legislature’. This is where all parties get to give their opinions on the Bill. (At this stage the Bill can still be changed).
Once a Bill has been thoroughly discussed and debated by the Legislature, it goes to the vote. All parties represented in The House have to vote whether the Bill should be adopted as an Act or not. All votes in The House are conducted under the majority rule.
If the majority of the Legislature votes in favour of a Bill, it is passed and becomes an Act. Sometimes the Legislature will discuss an existing Act, and if the majority of MPLs vote for changes, the Act will be amended. Once an Act has been passed by the Legislature, it becomes an enforceable law.
An example of a law that has been passed by the Legislature is The Gauteng Liquor Amendment Act no. 9 of 2003. This Act outlines all procedures to be followed when liquor traders want to obtain a liquor (trading) licence. This Act is an amendment of the Gauteng Liquor Act no. 2 of 2003. If people sell fail to meet the conditions of this Act in their liquor trade, they are in breach of the law.
Every passed law, or amended existing law, has to be communicated to the people of Gauteng after it through the stages listed above. All passed laws are also published in the Government Gazette.
Members of the public can access Memorandums by contacting the GPL’s Public Participation & Petitions Unit.