About the Liberian Legislature
The legislature, executive and judiciary are three separate yet equal branches of government, each with specific constitutional functions, duties and responsibilities. This arrangement provides for a system of checks and balances of power among the branches. Legislative institutions are complex and multifaceted organizations. These institutions are considered the principal forum for debate on public policy issues and a place for compromise and consensus building. Moreover, legislatures reflect a broad spectrum of the country’s political opinions. They are central to democratic government, as long as they remain visible, accessible and accountable to the citizenry. Liberia’s legislature, like other legislatures around the world, strives to fulfill the following three functions: representation of Liberia’s citizenry, lawmaking and oversight over the executive branch of government. These functions are facilitated by effective selfmanagement and an infrastructure that meets the needs of the legislature.
The Liberian Legislature consists of two separate houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives, both of which must pass all legislation before it can be sent to the president to sign into law. There are 30 members in the Senate and 64 in the House of Representatives. They assemble in regular sessions beginning on the second working Monday in January. By enactment, the Legislature usually goes on an annual “agriculture break” by the month of August of every year. Chapter 5 of the Constitution of Liberia in Article 34 provides the Legislature with the power to:
- Create new counties and other political sub-divisions, and to readjust existing county boundaries;
- Provide for the security of the Republic;
- Provide for the common defense; declare war and authorize the executive to conclude peace; and raise, support, and regulate the Armed Forces of the Republic;
- Levy taxes, duties, imposts, excise and other revenues, and to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins and make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic;
- Constitute courts inferior to the Supreme Court, including circuit courts, claims courts and other courts with such prescribed jurisdictional powers as may be deemed necessary for the proper administration of justice throughout the Republic;
- Approve treaties, conventions and such other international agreements negotiated or signed on behalf of the Republic;
- Regulate trade and commerce between Liberia and other nations;
- Establish laws for citizenship, naturalization and residence;
- Enact the electoral laws;
- Establish various categories of criminal offenses and provide for the punishment thereof;
- Enact laws providing pension scheme for various categories of government officials and employees in accordance with age and tenure of service; and
- Make other laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the Republic, or in any department or office thereof.