The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has announced that he will ask for special powers to legislate against corruption. In the battle of the revolutionary government against this scourge, the possibility looms of a new Enabling Law. To better understand this legal mechanism, we present a summary of the subject.
The Enabling Law is a constitutional tool which empowers the Citizen President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to issue decrees with the rank and force of law on matters he or she deems appropriate to the needs and/or emergencies of the country.
It is a law sanctioned by the National Assembly, under the conditions established by the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela of 1999. Specifically, it must comply with the formal processes inherent in the development of the law, as specified in Article 203:
Enabling laws are those sanctioned by the National Assembly by three-fifths of its members, in order to establish the guidelines, purposes, and framework for matters delegated to the President of the Republic with the rank and force of a law. Enabling laws are set to the period for exercising thereof.
Steps for Approving an Enabling Law
The Enabling Law must meet a number of requirements prior to its enactment by the Head of State and its subsequently entrance into law:
1.1 – Presentation of the Draft of the Enabling Law
The draft of the Enabling Law must be submitted to the National Assembly by the national executive, as stipulated in Article 204 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (CBRV)
1.2 – First plenary discussion
The directing board of the National Assembly shall determine whether or not the project complies with the requirements for the introduction of laws, according to Article 145 of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly (RIDAN). Upon completing the requirements, the bill is distributed by the Secretariat to the Assembly within five days of its submission, for its first plenary discussion.
Upon this instance, the preamble, objectives, scope, and feasibility of the bill shall be considered. Additionally, the presented articles of the bill should be discussed, in order to determine its pertinence, or lack thereof (CRBV, Article 208, and RIDAN, Article 146).
1.3 – Review by Special Committee
If the said bill is approved in the first discussion, it will be referred to a Special Committee which subjects the material for an analysis (CRBV, Article 208, and RIDAN, Article 146) and presents a report with its recommendations and objections.
1.4 – Second Plenary Discussion
After receiving the report of the committee, the directing board shall order its distribution among the assembly and shall, within ten consecutive working days, call a second discussion on the project, unless, for reasons of urgency, the Assembly decides on a shorter time period.
The second discussion of the bill shall be conducted article by article, and will focus on the report presented by the Special Commission (RIDAN, Article 149). On this instance, the bill will be approved, rejected, or deferred.
1.5 – Sanction and Referral of the Law
Upon being sanctioned into law by the National Assembly, it shall be referred to the executive for its promulgation and publication in the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, with its corresponding order "to be executed" and, thus, its enactment (CRBV, Article 215).
Four Enabling Laws in 13 Years
During the first 13 years of government, the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela granted special powers to the citizen President, Hugo Rafael Chavez, on four occasions, to issue decrees – laws on a variety of subjects that have positively impacted the country's development.
The first Enabling Law was requested in 1999 and granted for a period of six months. 53 decrees were approved into law.
The second Enabling Law was requested to Parliament in 2000 and conceived for a period of one year. 49 laws were enacted.
The third Enabling Law was requested from Parliament in 2007 and granted for a period of 18 months. 59 laws were enacted.
The fourth Enabling Law was formulated by President Chavez on Dec. 17, 2010, after being granted special powers for 18 months by the National Assembly, due to the necessity to attend to emergencies arising in much of the country following heavy rains which affected millions and left thousands homeless. 54 decrees were approved into law.
Before the Bolivarian Revolution, were Enabling Laws approved?
Yes. Between 1961 and 1998, Congress approved 6 Enabling Laws which gave rise to 172 decrees with the rank and force of law, strictly relating to economic and financial matters, as stipulated in the 1961 Constitution.
What are the benefits of an Enabling Law?
The reduction of the time required to approve laws.
The simplification of administrative procedures.
The streamlining of all necessary steps to respond to an emergency.
The ability to create extra administrative processes.
The timely and effective response to those affected in priority areas, including housing, infrastructure, agriculture, nutrition, the economy, and others.