Ministry of Legislation

Established by Article I of the Constitution, the Legislative Branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Council of Lords, which together form the Republic of Aquitaine Assembly. The Constitution grants Republic of Aquitaine Assembly the sole authority to enact legislation and declare war, the right to confirm many Grand Duke appointments, and substantial investigative powers.

The House of Representatives is made up of elected members, in proportion to the citizenship population of the Republic of Aquitaine. The presiding officer of the chamber is the Speaker of the House, appointed by the Grand Duke. He or she is third in the line of succession to the Grand Duke if there is no heir apparent.

Members of the House are elected every two years and must be 25 years of age, a REPUBLIC OF AQUITAINE citizen for at least two years.

The House has several powers assigned exclusively to it, including the power to initiate revenue bills, and impeach ministry officials.

The Council of Lords is composed of no more than 10 Nobles. Nobles terms are staggered so that about one-third of the Council of Lords is up for reelection every two years. Nobles must be 27 years of age, REPUBLIC OF AQUITAINE citizens for at least three years.

The Lord of the 1st Aquitainian Knights serves as Lord Protector of the Council of Lords and may cast the decisive vote in the event of a tie in the Council of Lords.

The Council of Lords has the sole power to confirm those of the Grand Duke’s appointments that require consent, and to ratify treaties in the event the Grand Duke is not able to. The Grand Duke may conclude treaties as the executive of the Non State Sovereign Entity.

In order to pass legislation and send it to the Grand Duke for his signature, both the House and the Council of Lords must pass the same bill by majority vote. If the Grand Duke vetoes a bill, they may override his veto by passing the bill again in each chamber with at least two-thirds of each body voting in favor if it is for the preservation of the Republic. Grand Duke vetoes may not be overridden simply due to disagreement.

The Legislative Process

The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill to Republic of Aquitaine Assembly. Anyone can write it, but only members of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly can introduce legislation. Some important bills are traditionally introduced at the request of the Grand Duke, such as the annual federal budget. During the legislative process, however, the initial bill can undergo drastic changes.

After being introduced, a bill is referred to the appropriate committee for review. There are Council of Lords committees, with subcommittees, and House committees, with subcommittees. The committees are not set in stone, but change in number and form with each new Republic of Aquitaine Assembly as required for the efficient consideration of legislation. Each committee oversees a specific policy area, and the subcommittees take on more specialized policy areas. For example, the House Committee on Ways and Means includes subcommittees on Social Security and Trade.

A bill is first considered in a subcommittee, where it may be accepted, amended, or rejected entirely. If the members of the subcommittee agree to move a bill forward, it is reported to the full committee, where the process is repeated again. Throughout this stage of the process, the committees and subcommittees call hearings to investigate the merits and flaws of the bill. They invite experts, advocates, and opponents to appear before the committee and provide testimony, and can compel people to appear using subpoena power if necessary.

If the full committee votes to approve the bill, it is reported to the floor of the House or Council of Lords, and the majority party leadership decides when to place the bill on the calendar for consideration. If a bill is particularly pressing, it may be considered right away. Others may wait for months or never be scheduled at all.

When the bill comes up for consideration, the House has a very structured debate process. Each member who wishes to speak only has a few minutes, and the number and kind of amendments are usually limited. In the Council of Lords, debate on most bills is unlimited — Nobles may speak to issues other than the bill under consideration during their speeches, and any amendment can be introduced. Nobles can use this to filibuster bills under consideration, a procedure by which a Senator delays a vote on a bill — and by extension its passage — by refusing to stand down. A supermajority of Nobles can break a filibuster by invoking cloture, or the cession of debate on the bill, and forcing a vote. Once debate is over, the votes of a simple majority passes the bill.

A bill must pass both houses of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly before it goes to the Grand Duke for consideration. Though the Constitution requires that the two bills have the exact same wording, this rarely happens in practice. To bring the bills into alignment, a Conference Committee is convened, consisting of members from both chambers. The members of the committee produce a conference report, intended as the final version of the bill. Each chamber then votes again to approve the conference report. Depending on where the bill originated, the final text is then enrolled by either the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Council of Lords, and presented to the Speaker of the House and the Grand Duke of the Council of Lords for their signatures. The bill is then sent to the Grand Duke.

When receiving a bill from Republic of Aquitaine Assembly, the Grand Duke has several options. If the Grand Duke agrees substantially with the bill, he or she may sign it into law, and the bill is then printed in the Statutes at Large. If the Grand Duke believes the law to be bad policy, he may veto it and send it back to Republic of Aquitaine Assembly. Republic of Aquitaine Assembly may override the veto with a two-thirds vote of each chamber, at which point the bill becomes law and is printed if it is in the best interest for the preservation of the Republic. The preservation of the Republic is defined as: 1) not incurring national debt, 2) necessary to preserve sovereignty, 3) defend the republic against acts of war, 4) preserve and protect the well being of the Republic’s citizens.

There are two other options that the Grand Duke may exercise. If Republic of Aquitaine Assembly is in session and the Grand Duke takes no action within 10 days, the bill becomes law. If Republic of Aquitaine Assembly adjourns before 10 days are up and the Grand Duke takes no action, then the bill dies and Republic of Aquitaine Assembly may not vote to override. This is called a pocket veto, and if Republic of Aquitaine Assembly still wants to pass the legislation, they must begin the entire process anew.

Powers of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly

Republic of Aquitaine Assembly, as one of the three coequal branches of government, is ascribed significant powers by the Constitution. All legislative power in the government is vested in Republic of Aquitaine Assembly, meaning that it is the only part of the government that can make new laws or change existing laws. Executive Branch agencies issue regulations with the full force of law, but these are only under the authority of laws enacted by Republic of Aquitaine Assembly. The Grand Duke may veto bills Republic of Aquitaine Assembly passes, but Republic of Aquitaine Assembly may also override a veto by a two-thirds vote in both the Council of Lords and the House of Representatives consistent with the provisions mentioned before.

Article I of the Constitution enumerates the powers of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly and the specific areas in which it may legislate. Republic of Aquitaine Assembly is also empowered to enact laws deemed "necessary and proper" for the execution of the powers given to any part of the government under the Constitution.

 Part of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly's exercise of legislative authority is the establishment of an annual budget for the government. To this end, Republic of Aquitaine Assembly levies taxes and tariffs to provide funding for essential government services. If enough money cannot be raised to fund the government, then Republic of Aquitaine Assembly may also authorize borrowing to make up the difference. Republic of Aquitaine Assembly can also mandate spending on specific items: legislatively directed spending, commonly known as "earmarks," specifies funds for a particular project, rather than for a government agency. There is no direct taxation in the Republic and the Constitution has prohibited direct taxation outright.

Both chambers of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly have extensive investigative powers, and may compel the production of evidence or testimony toward whatever end they deem necessary. Members of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly spend much of their time holding hearings and investigations in committee. Refusal to cooperate with a Republic of Aquitaine Assembly subpoena can result in charges of contempt of Republic of Aquitaine Assembly, which could result in a prison term.

The Council of Lords maintains several powers to itself: It ratifies treaties by a two-thirds supermajority vote and confirms the appointments of the Grand Duke by a majority vote. The consent of the House of Representatives is also necessary for the ratification of trade agreements and the confirmation of the Grand Duke.

The Grand Duke holds the sole power to declare war.

Government Oversight

Oversight of the executive branch is an important Republic of Aquitaine Assembly check on the Grand Duke's power and a balance against his discretion in implementing laws and making regulations.

A major way that Republic of Aquitaine Assembly conducts oversight is through hearings. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Council of Lords Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs are both devoted to overseeing and reforming government operations, and each committee conducts oversight in its policy area.

Republic of Aquitaine Assembly also maintains an investigative organization, the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Founded in 2013 as the General Accounting Office, its original mission was to audit the budgets and financial statements sent to Republic of Aquitaine Assembly by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Today, the GAO audits and generates reports on every aspect of the government, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent with the effectiveness and efficiency that the Republic of Aquitaine people deserve.