Involvement of the Bundesrat
This stage in the procedure may come as a surprise to begin with. Why is the Government’s bill not forwarded immediately to the Bundestag to be dealt with under parliamentary legislative procedure? The so-called first passage in the Bundesrat provided for in Article 76 of the Basic Law results from the Bundesrat’s extensive rights to participate in the legislative process once the bill has been adopted by the Bundestag (this will be considered in detail later on). The Bundesrat could at least delay the entry into force of bills to which it may lodge an objection and even prevent many laws requiring its consent from ever entering into force. So that the views of the Bundesrat and the Länder become known in good time, the Basic Law provides for the Bundesrat to make initial comments on the draft law even before it is submitted to Parliament; the Government thus has an opportunity to take the counterproposals of the Bundesrat into consideration or attach to the draft a written statement of its position on these proposals. The comments of the Federal Government on any objections the Bundesrat may lodge are known as a counterstatement; like the comments of the Bundesrat, which have to be submitted within 6 weeks, this counterstatement is attached to the original bill either straight away or in good time. Thus the following documents are submitted to the Bundestag: the draft law drawn up by the Federal Government together with an explanatory memorandum; the comments of the Bundesrat; the counterstatement of the Federal Government on the comments of the Bundesrat and the statement of the National Regulatory Control Council (in some cases accompanied by a reaction from the Federal Government). The documents submitted to the Bundestag at the beginning of the legislative process thus already reveal important aspects which may possibly give rise to conflict between the Federation and the Länder at a later stage.
The Federal Government’s draft law, together with the explanatory memorandum, the comments of the Bundesrat, the counterstatement of the Federal Government and the statement of the National Regulatory Control Council, is transmitted to the Bundestag by the Federal Chancellor with a covering letter to the President of the Bundestag. An example of this sort of covering letter is reproduced below. It relates to the government draft of the Act for the Promotion of Families and Household-related Services (Family Benefits Act - Familienleistungsgesetz) of 22 December 2008, which was published on pages 2955 et seq. of the Federal Law Gazette, Part I, for 2008. In the following pages, this bill will be considered as it passes through the various stages of the legislative process. The aim of the bill was to assist families by increasing child benefit and the tax allowance for dependent children, by establishing school-requisites grants for children from low-income families and by improving tax relief for expenditure on what are defined as household-related services - the services of gardeners and cleaners and care and support services for dependants, for example. To this end, several laws had to be amended, particularly the Income Tax Act, the Federal Child Benefit Act and Books Two and Twelve of the German Social Code. A separate article in the bill was dedicated to each of these instruments. This was thus a so-called 'article law', a law containing a number of articles putting in place new legislation and setting forth the amendments to existing legislation required as a result.
The interests of the Länder were particularly affected by the bill because it included provisions relating to taxation revenue, which is partially passed on to the Länder. It was therefore a so-called 'consent law', a law which cannot enter into force without the consent of the Bundesrat. Accordingly, the opening formula of the new law reads: "The Bundestag has adopted the following law with the consent of the Bundesrat: ..."
German Bundestag - 16th electoral term Printed paper 16/10809
Federal Republic of Germany
Berlin, 7 November 2008
Dr Norbert Lammert
Dear Mr President,
I enclose the Draft Act for the Promotion of Families and Household-related
In connection with the parliamentary reform process, the Bundestag called for every bill to be accompanied by what is known as an introductory page. This was accepted by the Federal Government and has been standard practice since 1969. Such introductory pages briefly describe the objectives of the bill, the proposed solution and possible alternatives and the cost of the proposed solution:
Printed paper 16/10809
7 November 2008
introduced by the Federal Government
A. Problem and objective
Investments in families are investments in the future. For this
D. Financial effects on the public budget
1. Budget expenditure excluding cost of execution
(a) Increase/decrease (-) in tax revenue (in €m.)
Tier of government
Full annual impact1
1 Impact for a full tax year.
(b) Other budget expenditure
The increase and graduation of child benefit under the Federal
The new school benefit will cost the Länder and local authorities
2. Cost of execution
It is not expected that the proposed act will make any additional
E. Other costs
Other than the administrative costs that are set out separately
There is no indication of any unintended side effects within the
F. Administrative costs
The proposed act will not introduce, amend or abolish any
(b) The general public
Two obligations on the general public to disclose information are
The amendments to Books II and XII of the German Social Code
(c) Administrative authorities
The proposed act will not introduce, amend or abolish any
The Federal Government bill printed above is already in the form of a Bundestag printed paper: the number 16 in the top right-hand corner to the left of the oblique stroke indicates the 16th electoral term, i.e. the period between the first sitting of the Bundestag elected in September 2005 and the first sitting of the 17th Bundestag, elected on 27 September 2009, whereas the number to the right of the oblique stroke is the number of the Bundestag printed paper concerned. The Bundestag does not receive the draft in this form; it is at the Bundestag that it is put into this form, printed and distributed to all Members.