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Legislation

According to Article 107 of the Land Constitution, the legislative function is exercised by the people through referendums and by parliament. Bills can be introduced by Members of the Landtag, the Land government or in the form of petitions for a referendum. The latter method has not yet been made use of in Rhineland-Palatinate. Bills introduced from within the Landtag can be supported by parliamentary groups or by at least eight members. Bills are normally debated in two readings in the plenary sessions of the Landtag; laws which amend the Constitution must be considered in three readings.

The first reading is designed to allow an exchange of basic positions as regards the bill in question. The only voting which takes place after the first reading is on motions to refer the topic to one or more committees (one of the committees is designated as the leading committee). The leading committee reserves the right to submit a final recommendation for the concluding debate in plenary session. The committees can interview independent experts, representatives of interest groups or other relevant persons in public sessions.

The second reading of a bill takes place at the earliest on the second working day following the conclusion of the first debate or after circulation of the recommendation made by the committee; it must begin at the latest two months after the recommendation has been circulated. As a rule, the second debate is opened with a report by a member of the leading Landtag committee. This is followed by the debate and the vote in plenary session.

Right up to the last individual vote, the Landtag may refer a bill back to a committee. One of the special rights of Landtag deputies is that of introducing amendment motions in the second reading. In the third reading amendment motions can only be tabled by parliamentary groups or at least eight deputies.

If all parts of a bill are rejected in the second reading, there is no further discussion of or vote on this bill. Apart from this, the debates end with the final vote which makes a definitive decision on adoption or rejection of the bill in question.

No vote is taken on the budget proposal until the Budget and Finance Committee and the other specialized committees have held preliminary discussions.

The decision on a bill adopted in plenary session of the Landtag is recorded by the President of the Landtag and forwarded to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister signs the law and announces it in the Law and Regulation Gazette within one month. The announcement of a law can be delayed in order to refer it to a referendum, if this is demanded by one-third of the members of the Landtag - this has never happend up to the present time, however.

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