THE SENATE OF THE BAHAMAS
I - COMPOSITION
16 senators appointed by the General Governor.
The Senate's political composition must reflect that of the Chamber of the Assembly at the same time.
- The Prime Minister appoints 9 senators,
- The leader of the opposition appoints 4,
- The Prime Minister appoints 3 after consultation with the leader of the opposition.
II - SYSTEM OF APPOINTMENT
Term : 5 years.
Most recent election: 2 May 2002.
Eligibility : as of age 30. The person must have resided in the Bahamas for at least one year just prior to declaring himself to be a candidate.
Ineligibility : non-rehabilitated bankruptcy, mental illness, allegiance to a foreign State, electoral fraud, crime or a death sentence.
Incompatibilities : judges, civil servants (more than three months), the Crown's armed forces, members of the government's personnel secretariat, and employees of the Tourism Ministry (however, members of the government, ministers or parliamentary secretaries (secretaries of state) are appointed by the General Governor from among the senators and members of the Chamber of the Assembly (at most three of the ministers may be senators if the Minister of Justice or Attorney General is as well, otherwise two).
The President and Vice President of each of the two assemblies cannot be minister or Secretary of State.
The Supreme Court verifies the validity of the election of senators.
III - SYSTEM OF SESSIONS
A - The General Governor decides on the session's opening and closing dates. However, the Parliament cannot be out of session for more than twelve consecutive months.
B - The session must be adjourned in the event of a failure to achieve a quorum of six members (including the session president).
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
The Parliament of the Bahamas is comprised of her Majesty the Queen of England, the Senate, and the Chamber of the Assembly.
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
General restrictions to the Senate's legislative powers.
1) Power to introduce legislation
Members of Parliament are entitled to submit bills, provided that they are non-financial.
Unless agreed to by the government, it is prohibited to file bills that would result in an increase public expenditures or that would reduce public resources. It is also prohibited to file bills concerning the public debt.
2) Right of amendment
The Senate of the Bahamas has the right to amend.
Unless agreed to by the government, it is prohibited to file amendments that would result in an increase in public expenditures or would reduce public resources. It is also prohibited to file bills concerning the public debt.
3) Legislative procedure
Bills may be filed with either of the Parliament's two chambers, with the exception of finance bills, which are filed with the Chamber of the Assembly.
The laws must be examined by the two assemblies.
The session president can cast the deciding vote in the case of a tie vote.
a) Ordinary procedure
If a text has been adopted by the Chamber of the Assembly during two successive sessions (regardless of whether or not the Assembly was dissolved in the meantime) and if, although it was sent to the Senate at least one month prior to the end of the session, it is rejected by the Senate to each of these sessions, it is still sent to the General Governor to be promulgated. However, in order for these provisions to apply, nine months must have passed between the two dates on which the Chamber of the Assembly examined the text.
The law is promulgated by the General Governor, who exercises the executive branch on behalf of her Majesty the Queen of England.
b) Specific budget provisions
If the finance bill is not adopted by the Senate within one month of being sent by the Chamber of the Assembly, even though it was sent at least one month prior to the end of the session, it is nevertheless considered as adopted and is sent to the General Governor for promulgation, unless the Chamber of the Assembly has decided otherwise.
B - SUPERVISORY POWER
Collective responsibility of the Cabinet (the Prime Minister and eight other ministers, including the Minister of Justice and Attorney General before the Parliament: the leader of the majority party in the Chamber of the Assembly is appointed Prime Minister (vote of confidence at the first session after his appointment).
C - DISSOLUTION AND EXTENSION
The General Governor may dissolve the Parliament if the Prime Minister's office is vacant and if it deems that no deputy is capable of obtaining the support of a majority of the members of the Chamber of the Assembly.
The General Governor may extend the Parliament's term at any time, and in accord with the Prime Minister.
In the event of war, the legislature's term may be extended by 12 renewable months (and by up to two years in total).
V - SPECIFIC PROVISIONS
REFORM OF THE CONSTITUTION
Majority conditions: final vote by (based on the articles being revised, according to the list sent by the Constitution --fundamental rights, public authorities--), two-thirds or three-quarters of the members of each of the two chambers of Parliament (in this case the session president can only vote as an individual).
In addition, after the bill has been adopted by each of the two chambers, it is submitted by referendum to the vote of all citizens of voting age and must be approved by a majority of votes.