Without laws there would be chaos
A state passes laws to regulate the coexistence of its citizens. There are laws for almost all areas of daily life: The road traffic regulations stipulate that you can only go through the traffic light when it is green. And the penal code says that nobody can just steal from someone else. It is very important that there are laws: without them, all the rules could simply be laid down by the strongest. They would then only enforce what is good for them.
How is a law created?
In Germany there are federal and state laws. State laws are only valid in the individual federal states, federal laws in the whole country. The constitution regulates who is allowed to pass laws in which area. School and education, for example, are a matter of the state. Most of the laws in Germany are federal laws. There is a long way to go before a proposal becomes law.
The Bundestag votes
The first step towards a new federal law is the so-called 'legislative initiative'. This is what it is called when the federal government, the Bundesrat or several members of the Bundestag, namely at least 30, have drafted a new law. The draft will first be discussed in the Bundestag. Then it will be carefully checked by experts and maybe changed a bit. The Bundestag finally votes on the final draft. In most cases, the 'relative majority' is sufficient.
This means that the law was approved if more MPs voted for it than against. In the case of particularly important laws, however, the relative majority is not enough: If, for example, a small part of the Basic Law is to be changed, at least two thirds of the MPs must be in favor. When the Bundestag has voted for a law, it is also said that it has 'passed' it.
Next station: the Federal Council
However, the approval of the Bundestag is not enough to make a law valid. Next, the Federal Council has to decide on this. Depending on what kind of law that is, there are different options for doing this: In the case of important laws, such as treaties with other states, the members of the Federal Council must also vote in favor. If they don't, the Bundestag and Bundesrat will try to find a joint solution in the so-called mediation committee.
Such laws are called consent laws. The other type of law is the objection law: Here the Federal Council can only say whether it has reservations about the law and thereby reject it. This is called objection. If that happens, the Bundestag has to vote again. If the MPs vote for the law again, the Federal Council can no longer do anything about it.
The Federal President also has a say in the decision
For a law to be valid, some important people have to sign it. First of all, it is the responsible minister - for example, a new tax law is signed by the finance minister. Then the Chancellor signs. And lastly, the Federal President has to sign. When everyone has signed, the law will be published in a special journal, the Federal Law Gazette. The law usually comes into force two weeks after publication.
Status: 03/23/2010, 10:45 am
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