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Bureaucracy (Upper Echelon/House)|
Administration (Lower Echelon/House)
Representatives (Common Voting Body)
|Leader||Lavender (Head Legislator)|
|Total Members||84 members|
|Upper House||Every four years|
|Lower House||Every two years|
|Meeting Place||Shops City Square Towers|
The Common Legislature is the legislative branch of Shops Island's government. It serves alongside the executive branch and the judicial branch to govern the country. The Common Legislature was created to replace the Shops Island Council in October of 2013, so that one organization would not control both the legislative and the judicial system at the same time.
As Shops grew, so did its political system. Around later September 2013, the Shops Island Council was proving inefficient in keeping all government operations in check. After an almost unanimous vote in the Shops Island Council on September 29, 2013, the council decided to split the government part of the council off into a separate entity. On October 2, 2013, the Common Legislature was formed as a more efficient governing body, built and designed more like a senate or parliament. Construction of a new building and transferring all operations occurred for the next few weeks afterwards.
The Common Legislature works much like a council. Topics are proposed by one or more politicians to be introduced as law or a government initiative. The legislature reads the bill in session, and then discussion period is opened up to discuss the benefits and flaws of the bill, as well as to open up debate among opposing politicians. After discussion period, the bill is voted on by the legislature. If it passes, then it moves for the bureaucrats to approve or not. If the bureaucrats approve of the bill, it becomes law or an act of government. If unapproved, it is either tabled or sent back to the legislature to fix and restart the process. If the bill does not pass the legislature's vote at all, then it is scrapped.
Despite this debate and voting process, the Head Legislator, who is the president, can still make executive orders/vetoes which create new laws or nullify laws passed in the legislature, respectively. Presidential executive orders and vetoes can be overturned by the legislature with at least a ¾ vote.
There are five bureaucrats who serve in the Common Legislature. Bureaucrats are considered to be the most senior lawmakers in the legislature, and they wield the most authority (except for the president and the speaker, of course). Bureaucrats are often high-profile figures in Shopper politics, and they are often the figureheads of any debates that occur over political matters. The most prolific bureaucrat is Penquino, who was once Vice-President and serves as President Lavender's main opposition in the legislature.
As elected bureaucrats, these folks also have significant legislative power over their individual districts, and are often known for imposing their will quite one-sidedly onto their constituency.
- See also: President of Shops Island
The head legislator position in the Common Legislature is permanently held by the sitting President of Shops Island. The head legislator is technically a bureaucrat, but also serves the additional role of being the presiding officer, or president of the Common Legislature. Under normal circumstances, the head legislator is not allowed to cast votes on bills, but is still allowed to speak and to state his opinions. The head legislator is only allowed to vote to break a tie, except if that vote is a non-confidence vote against the president, in which case the Speaker of the House gets to cast the deciding vote.
While the President has veto power over any bills tabled by the legislature, he is not allowed to veto in a legislature session. He must sign an executive veto in his office after the session has ended.
Speaker of the House
The speaker of the house is the most powerful figure in the Common Legislature. The current speaker of the house is Garrett Placid. The speaker is responsible for keeping order in the commons at all times, and has the authority to expel members from the legislature if they are breaking protocol or being generally unruly. When the head legislator is not present, the speaker of the house acts as the presiding officer over the legislature. Much like the head legislator, the speaker cannot cast votes in normal sessions. The only exception is a vote of no-confidence against the President, in which the speaker may be called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote.
The speaker also holds significant leverage over affairs throughout Shops Island's government buildings. A stipulation in the legislature's rules states that "quorum" must be reached before votes can proceed. Quorum is considered to be reached when 60% of the members are present, excluding those who have been formally excused by the speaker. The speaker, at the head legislator's insistence, may also instruct the Sergeant at arms to compel the attendance of absent members by any means necessary, including arrest, to reach quorum.
In the event of a disaster, the speaker of the house is also third in line to the presidency, behind the Vice President and the Director of the SIA. The speaker is traditionally elected by popular vote of the legislature, and a speaker's candidacy must be approved by the head legislator before being allowed to proceed to a vote.
The speaker of the house is not a role which is elected by the Shopper populace, but rather by the legislature itself. A confidence vote is held annually on the speaker's performance to decide whether or not he should be replaced.
The administration is the second most powerful class of legislative member, second only to the bureaucrats. Each Shopper state and territory is allotted one administrator to serve their interests in the Common Legislature. Much like bureaucrats, administrators have quite a bit of sway over their individual districts, and are seen by many to be highly involved members of the community, often owning or having a large presence in local politics.
Administrators are also entitled to many of the rights that bureaucrats have, such as being able to create and enforce some legislation in their constituencies at will, although these policies can, and often are overturned by either a bureaucrat who represents that same district, or by the legislature as a whole.
Representatives are elected on a state and territorial basis to adequately represent the Shopper people in government. Each state and territory is entitled to two High Representatives by law, while the number of Low Representatives is dependent on a state or territory's population. Unlike administrators and bureaucrats, representatives only hold voting power in the legislature, and cannot perform any unilateral actions in their home districts.
High Representatives in the Common Legislature are elected based on four-year cycles, and can serve for an unlimited number of terms so long as they keep the confidence of the electorate. High Representatives are considered to be senior legislators with plenty of government experience, and as such many cabinet positions and committee chairmanships are given to these members. Traditionally, the High Representatives are tasked with "mentoring" and "looking after" the less experienced Low Representatives, and are often tasked with being a body of sober second thought when bills are discussed and voted upon.
Low Representatives in the Common Legislature are elected based on two-year cycles, and, just like their senior counterparts, can serve for an unlimited number of terms. Low Representatives are generally seen as the least experienced members of the legislature, and are often used purely as tools and votes by the higher-ranking members of the legislature. Low Representatives are rarely allowed to chair committees, nor are they frequently promoted to cabinet positions.
Other Important Roles
- Sergeant at Arms - The Sergeant at Arms is responsible for keeping order in the Common Legislature, and acts at the Speaker's whim. He is essentially the speaker's "errand boy", being tasked with forcibly removing uncooperative members of the legislature, or by forcefully compelling their attendance to achieve quorum. The Sergeant at Arms is also considered to be the most important member of the Legislative Police force.
- Whips - Whips are not an official role in the Common Legislature, but the political factions which have made themselves apparent (in spite of Shops Island's ban on political parties) tend to appoint "whips", whose job is to ensure that voting blocs remain intact and predictable, so that bills can be passed without unneeded drama. Whips tend to have dirt on almost all members of the legislature, and frequently use blackmail to force members into voting a certain way.
- Legislative Police - The Legislative Police is a special branch of the SIA which is tasked with protecting all members of the Common Legislature, as well as the meeting hall itself. Each member is assigned a personal bodyguard which is part of the Legislative Police, while many other officers are simply security guards for the legislature as a whole.
While Shopper law technically forbids the foundation of political parties, the Common Legislature is still home to two rival factions who have stark differences in ideology. During his tenure, President Lavender has managed to greatly polarize the Common Legislature, and to a lesser extent the entire Shopper populace. As the president needs to maintain a majority of the legislature's confidence, it's quite clear that more than half of the legislature supports the president.
In spite of Lavender's support, he and his policies still face significant resistance at every turn. While Lavender and his supporters have formed a distinct right-leaning faction in the legislature, another left-leaning faction has formed in response, figuratively led by Penquino, a popular Shopper politician and former vice-president. Penquino has commanded great respect from his legislative colleagues as a former Vice-President and all-around good guy. Many of Lavender's more extreme proposals in regards to war and foreign relations have often been filibustered and blocked by Penquino and his followers, likely for the better of the nation.
- Caseusopolis has its own distinct government also named the "Common Legislature", which was modeled off of Shops Island's.