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House of Commons of Sierra
Cámara de los Comunes de la Sierra (es)
黃金王國下議院 (zh)
Hạ Nghị Viện của Sierra (vn)
시에라의 하원 (kr)
สภาของเซียร์ (th)
Kapulungan ng mga Karaniwan ng Sierra (tl)
シエラ庶民院 (ja)
Serran SSerran ESerran YSerran A  Serran KSerran I  Serran TSerran ASerran LSerran MSerran A  Serran KSerran I  Serran SSerran ESerran RSerran RSerran A (sb)
78th House of Commons of Sierra
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Joe MillardR
Since October 16, 2014
Majority Leader
Thomas HernandezR
Since October 16, 2014
Opposition Leader
Margaret ChanDR
Since October 16, 2014
Minority Leader
Ashoka Bhattacharyya, L
Since December 13, 2013
Structure
Seats 250
House of Commons of Sierra composition 2014
Political groups
  Democratic-Republicans: 88 seats
  Greens: 9 seats
  Social Democrats: 17 seats
  Progressive Socialists: 4 seats
  Communists: 1 seat
  Libertarians: 32 seats
  Royalists: 90 seats
  Remove Kebabs: 3 seats
  Prohibition: 1 seat
Elections
Last election
2014
Meeting place
Parliament Building of Sierra
House Chamber, Parliament Building, Porciúncula, GC
Website
house.gc.ks
The House of Commons of Sierra is a legislative chamber of the national legislature, that together with the Senate and the Monarchy, compose the Parliament of Sierra. The lower house, the House of Commons convenes in the House Chamber inside the Parliament Building, a large complex located in a federally owned section of Downtown Porciúncula. All 250 commoners or members of Parliament (MPs) are elected directly by the general populace and each province is apportioned a number of commoners based on population. Commoners are elected to two years and are generally re-elected every even-numbered year.

Overview

Kingdom of Sierra
Coat of arms of Sierra.svg

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of the
Kingdom of Sierra


Article V of the Constitution of Sierra prescribes all legislative power to both of the houses in Parliament. All legislation requires being reviewed and agreed upon by both houses although there are several exclusive powers conferred to both houses. For the House, additional powers and regulations pertaining to the Senate are mentioned in Sections III and VII of Article V.

The House of Commons shall be composed of Commoners by number apportioned according to population from each Province, chosen by the Electorate thereof, for two years; and each Commoner shall have one vote.

Article V, Section III, Subsection I (1858 Constitution of Sierra)

The House of Commons is composed of 250 members, a set number which is distributed among the provinces according to population. The most populous province, the Gold Coast, has 25 commoners although the Constitution requires that each province may have no less than 2 commoners regardless of population size. Two provinces have the legally minimum amount of 2 commoners: Eureka and Washumko, both of which have less than 1,500,000 residents each.

Both the House and Senate are required to approve all legislation before such laws can be enacted (provided they are assented by the Monarch). However, the House has the sole power to create and initiate bills for raising revenue or other financially-related topics, and impeach officials. These two exclusive functions are part of the checks and balances imposed in the Sierran federal system.

All commoners serve two-year terms and face an election every even-numbered year (legislative year). Like senators, commoners are elected directly by their constituents although the focus of their electoral or representational efforts are confined to their parliamentary district, not their province.

Two calendar years (730–731 days) including leap years are considered one legislative year. A year begins and ends on each October 16 by every two years of an even number coinciding with Election Day which in itself may see other major elections including that of the Prime Minister. At the beginning of each legislative year, a parliamentary budget, records, calendar, and regulations for both houses must be made before normal sessions can be conducted. Party leadership positions and responsibilities are determined during this time and new members are initiated into the House as they orient themselves with the environment. At the conclusion of each year, all records are surmised into an official archival report and plans for the next year are forwarded to the Prime Minister and Monarch.

Functions

Legislation

As a chamber of the Parliament, the national legislature, all bills and laws originate from either the House or the Senate. However, the Section VII of Article V declares that all bills pertaining to financial or budgetary issues (such as imposing taxes or tariffs) must originate from the House of Commons. The approval from both houses is required for any bill to be passed to the Monarch for consideration.

Checks and balances

The House of Commons has the reserved right to create or draft bills pertaining to financial issues including but not limited to, raising taxes, tariffs, and most authorizations for federal spending. In practice however, there have been revenue-raising laws which have passed that originated from the Senate. Usually, this can be legally achieved through the two houses' joint committees which convene together on bills and issues. The House's other reserved power is the right to impeach federal officials, primarily those in the executive and judicial branch. This power is part of the Parliament's right to check and balance the other two branches. The checks and balances in the Sierran federal system was imposed in order to prevent any one of the branches from holding a monopolistic concentration of power or legal prominence.

Membership

Apportionment

According to Subsection II, Section III, Article V of the Constitution, the seats of the House are apportioned or distributed among the provinces based on population. With the seats fixed at 250, the apportioning of seats is reevaluated every 10 years after the census is taken to reflect demographic changes. Each province however, is entitled to at least one commoner, regardless of population size.

Only the provinces are only guaranteed representation in the House by the Constitution. Consequentially, apportionment does not take the territories or their respective populations into account. The territorial equivalent of a commoner is a delegate or resident commissioner, who is elected to the House every four years instead of two years. Territorial-level officials are only allowed to vote when their vote will not impact the decision of a committee or the floor.

Redistricting

Redistricting, the legal process provinces undertake to accommodate apportionment demands, is conducted after every census. Wherever a province has more than one commoner, the province must divide itself into parliamentary districts. If a province only has one commoner, redistricting need not be done, as the entire province would be considered one whole parliamentary district. This results in the representing commoner to be the "commoner-at-large" as he/she is the sole commoner to represent the entire province. The number of parliamentary districts is directly equal to the number of commoners the province features, and all must be equally divided based roughly on population. Because provinces have the power to redistrict the boundaries of districts for themselves, this allows the possibility of gerrymandering.

Qualifications

Constitution of Sierra

The primary authoritative document on regards to Commons membership: the Constitution of Sierra.

The Constitution provides several qualifications a prospective commoner must fulfill in order to become eligible for election and office. Subsection III, Section III of Article V declares:

One must be a citizen of the Kingdom with no loyalties to any foreign state or organization, to be of or greater the age of 18, and been 9 consecutive years a resident within the Kingdom including its territories or 13 years a resident with seven years that of a consecutive fashion, and been free of conviction and punishment for a felony for 20 years; serious offenses to the State or its Provinces or Territories within 15 years; criminal offenses to the State or its Provinces or Territories within 10 years; or misdemeanors or minor offenses to the State or its Provinces or its

Age requirements are tied to office and does not prevent citizens from running for office. For instance, although a 17-year old may not be eligible for office (he/she not meeting the minimum age of 18), he/she may still run for office so long as his/her 18th birthday coincides or occurs before the day of confirmation (October 16).

Residency

Although the Constitution requires that a candidate had been a "resident within the Kingdom" for "9 consecutive years" or "13 years a resident" with seven consecutive years, it has been understood that this applies to one's domicile, not actual residency. This legal clarification was settled through a dispute between a prospective senator and the Senate—not the House. Nonetheless, the decision ruled by the Supreme Court in 1874 through the Janis v. Senate of the Kingdom of Sierra case applies to all relevant government bodies including the House. When Tyler Janis, a missionary from San Joaquin, was elected as one of his province's senator, the Senate decided to bar Janis from entry citing the Constitution, prompting Janis to file a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court. Janis and his family made frequent, extended trips to China for missionary work and having returned to Sierra three years prior to his election, he only resided in Sierra for "three consecutive years". The Supreme Court declared that so long as a person maintained a residency legally, they could be eligible to any requirements tied to residency without having to actually reside on the residency physically.

Since the ruling, both the Senate and the House have applied a federal law that does not contradict with the Court's ruling. Actual residency, does apply to whether or not a candidate is eligible to run for a province. However, he/she must have resided in the province he/she wishes to represent within 120 days of his/her confirmation into office. Although this is not mentioned in the Constitution, this rule has been codified in Sierran federal law. Actual residency is understood to be that the candidate actively maintains and is legally/financially obligated to a residence.

Elections and terms

All commoners are directly elected by the constituents of their parliamentary district, a single-member district whose residents they represent, by plurality voting. Commoners serve two year terms each and all seek reelection every October 16 of an even-numbered year. All commoners may serve an unlimited amount of terms both consecutively and non-consecutively.

Non-voting delegates

All of the territories with the exception of the Pacific Crown Islands are represented in the House by a territorial-level official whose title may either be a delegate or resident commissioner. Territorial-level officials serve four years every term as opposed to the two years voting commoners serve but may not vote on the floor or in the committee if their vote is considered "decisive".

The primary purpose of territorial-level officials is to provide some voice to the territories without directly allowing them to affect the internal affairs of the Kingdom. As territories are not considered part of the Kingdom per se, the lack of voting power among territorial-level officials serves as a safeguard against "foreign" interference even though technically, citizens of the territories are Sierran and the land is still administered by the Kingdom. There have been calls to elevate territorial-level officials to full-fledged commoners.

Privileges and salary

As of the 2014-15 legislative year, the salary of a senator ranges between $55,000 to $145,000 (based on seniority, experience, and contributions). The Speaker and party leaders receive a higher salary range of $180,000 to $200,000. The majority of these commoners' income depends on this payroll. The salaries of commoners may not be changed until after their next term, should they be reelected. In addition to the salary, commoners are automatically enrolled and covered with a federal pension plan and health insurance. Other types of insurances are not covered however and must be paid out of the commoner's paycheck. While commoners must pay taxes, they receive substantial tax deductions as civil service workers. Expenses for travels on official business are paid by the government at the expense of taxpayers. Excessive or extraneous use of government-provided funds for a trip or other event may be punished with a fine or other disciplinary measures.

While in office, commoners enjoy franking and parliamentary privileges (such as freedom from arrest from most actions). Although commoners have the right to speak on the House floor, there are internal rules and parliamentary procedures which dictate when and how commoners may speak during a session. Commoners use the prefix "The Honorable" as their title and often referred to as commoner, parliamentarian, or the abbreviation MP (member of parliament).

Structure

The House is composed of 250 commoners as well as 6 territorial-level officials. One of the commoners also serves as the Speaker and several hold party leadership positions. All 250 commoners are elected from their parliamentary districts while all 6 of the territorial-level officials represent their home territory at-large. There are numerous non-member positions known as apolitical posts who serve primarily to assist or ensure the parliamentary procedure runs smoothly. These posts include the chaplain, pages, sergeant-at-arms, standard-bearers, clerks, and the Secretary of the House.

Seating

Traditionally, the Royalists are seated to the right, the Libertarians and independents directly to the front, and the Democratic-Republicans to the left of the Speaker's dais.

Officers

Speaker

The Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the chamber. Responsible for regulating and monitoring debates and discussion held on the House floor, the Speaker is also in charge of ruling on points of order, executing disciplinary actions, and announcing the results of votes. Unlike the President of the Senate, who is also the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House is usually a senior commoner chosen by the ruling party or the majority of the House. Because of the political nature of the Speaker, the Speaker is perceived to be the leader of his/her party in the House and therefore, expected to set the agenda of the party. It is sometimes possible for the Speaker to be a member of an opposition or minority party—this becoming more common in the contemporary three-party system. The current Speaker, Margaret Chen, a Democratic-Republican, is the Speaker of a Royalist majority House.

Party leaders

In addition to the Speaker, the chairs of the House committees may be headed by the ruling party. The minority and opposition parties (the second and third largest parties) also have corresponding posts to the positions filled by the majority party. All parties feature party leaders or ranking members who hold primacy among their peers. The parties all each elect their own floor leader: the Majority Leader, the Opposition Leader, and the Minority Leader. The Opposition and Minority Leaders lead their parties while the Majority Leader is the second-highest ranking member of the Party behind the Speaker. Party leaders often lead their members in debates and advise them whether to support or object to any piece of legislation presented. Each party also elects a whip who encourages and ensures that party members vote along party lines. The whips are assisted by the deputy whips who hold the same responsibilities and duties of the whips.

Apolitical posts

Alongside the members of the House, there are members on staff at the floor aimed towards assisting general operations and providing services for the commoners. These positions are known as apolitical posts due to the fact that none of these staff members have any legal significance or right to become involved in the parliamentary process, and consequently, unable to influence legislation politically. Officially non-partisan, positions include the Secretary of the House (who records all sessions, maintains records, and forwards requests from commoners), clerks (who assist the Secretary in filing paperwork and aiding the procedural process), the House Curator (who maintains and preserves archived records in conjunction with the Library of Parliament), the Sergeant-at-Arms (the chief law enforcement officer of the Parliament Police force in the House wing), the Chaplain (responsible for starting each session with a prayer and providing general pastoral/religious services for commoners), the Standard-Bearer (responsible for holding the flag and initiating pledges), and pages (young interns who assist individual commoners various tasks).

In addition, in almost every session, there is a third-party private media team on floor recording procedure. Since 1981, the recording rights of the House has been given to the Royal Broadcasting Corporation, a private news network which runs the Sierra Educational News Television (SENT). The channel SENT-2 is dedicated entirely to coverage on the House and events relevant to its members.

Committees

Committees are used for the purpose of the creation and review of bills pertaining to a specific issue or topic. Each committee may propose, consider, amend, or report bills that fall within their jurisdiction and collaborate with the House committee equivalent whenever necessary. Committees are also responsible for overseeing their federal counterparts who may share the same jurisdictional powers and responsibilities. In addition, committees are responsible for researching and investigating their assigned subject with the expectation of advising the executive branch on national decisions.

Commoners are assigned committees by their parties and formally enrolled through the confirmation of the entire House. Within each committee, standing members elect their heads who oversee the administrative process of the committee. Parties select commoners based on the individual's personal preferences and strengths, as well as their seniority.

Committees may be furthered divided into subcommittees which may concentrate on a narrower range of issues. From time to time, temporary committees are formed to investigate and oversee special issues. Largely ad hoc, most of these committees are formed as select committees which pertain to a specific range of relevant issues.

As of June 2015, there are a total of 23 committees (20 permanent standing committees and 3 select committees) and 77 subcommittees. In addition, the House and Senate have 7 joint committees together.

Committee
  Subcommittees
Committee on Agriculture
  Subcommittee on Agricultural Security
Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research
Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade
Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Rural Development and Growth
Subcommittee on Nutrition and Health
Subcommittee on Water Allocation and Management
Committee on Appropriations
 
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, Interior, Nutrition, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee on Commerce, Culture, Labor, and Transportation
Subcommittee on Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Justice
Subcommittee on Education, Health, and Human Services
Subcommittee on Financial Services and National Administration
Subcommittee on National Intelligence and Security
Subcommittee on Parliamentary Affairs and Oversight
Subcommittee on Royal Affairs and Oversight
Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs
Committee on Budget
Committee on Defense
 
Subcommittee on Aviation and Aerial Operations
Subcommittee on Ground and Tactical Forces
Subcommittee on Logistics and Management
Subcommittee on Naval and Amphibious Operations
Subcommittee on Personnel and Human Services
Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
Committee on Ethics
Committee on Finance, Monetary Policy, and Community Development
 
Subcommittee on Community Development and Transportation
Subcommittee on Economic and Monetary Policy
Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, Credit, and Consumer Protection
Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth
Subcommittee on Foreign Trade and International Economic Policy
Subcommittee on Insurance, Investment, and Securities
Subcommittee on Social Welfare Programs and Policies
Subcommittee on Taxation
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
 
Subcommittee on Civil Aviation Regulations
Subcommittee on Coastal and Aerospatial Affairs
Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Product Safety, and Automotive Safety
Subcommittee on Communications, Science, and Technology
Subcommittee on the Internet and Online Security
Subcommittee on Interprovincial Commerce and Safety
Committee on Environmental Affairs and Climate
 
Subcommittee on Air Quality and Climate Change
Subcommittee on Animal Protection and Safety
Subcommittee on Cleanup, Waste Management, and Environmental Justice
Subcommittee on Nuclear Policy
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Subcommittee on Water Management and Regulations
Committee on Foreign Relations
 
Subcommittee on Africa
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Subcommittee on Caribbean, Latin America, and Antarctica
Subcommittee on Central Asia and the Middle East
Subcommittee on Eastern Europe
Subcommittee on North America and Western Europe
Subcommittee on International Democracy, Human Rights, and Overseas Sierran Protection
Subcommittee on International Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection
Subcommittee on Global Health, Children and Women's Issues, and Illicit Trading
Subcommittee on Multilateral Cooperation and General Global Policy
Subcommittee on Religious Liberty and Minority Rights
Subcommittee on Security, Military, and Foreign Aid
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Trasnational Crime, Kidnapping, and Extradition
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Family
 
Subcommittee on Early, Primary, Secondary, and Higher Education
Subcommittee on Elderly, Aging, and Pensions
Subcommittee on Health and Medical Services
Subcommittee on Employment Opportunity, Workplace Safety, and Standards
Subcommittee on Labor Rights and Unions
Committee on Internal Government Affairs, Administration, and Operations
 
Subcommittee on General Administration and Public Employee Affairs
Subcommittee on Investigations, Public Complaints, and Government Transparency
Subcommittee on Federal Spending and Management
Subcommittee on Royal Affairs and Oversight
Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Management
Committee on Internal House Operations and Administration
Committee on Judiciary
 
Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Property Rights
Subcommittee on Crime, Criminal Rights, and Incarceration
Subcommittee on Intellectual Rights and Internet Privacy
Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and National Integrity
Subcommittee on Law and Legal Policy
Subcommittee on Terrorism
Committee on Privileges and Conduct
Committee on Procedure, Rules, and Administration
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Committee on Ways and Means
 
Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee on Human Resources
Subcommittee on Oversight
Subcommittee on Trade
Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures
Select Committees on Special Issues
 
Select Committee on the 2015 Royal Monetary Authority Inflation Incident
Select Committee on the 2014 Mexican Invasion of Central America
Select Committee on the Investigation of the San Diego Bombings (joint)

Current composition and electoral results

The 78th House convenes during the 2014-15 legislative year. It began on October 16, 2014 and will end on October 15, 2015.

2014

Affiliation Commoners Delegates/RCs* Coalition
     Democratic-Republican Party 91 2 Democratic-Greens
     Green Party 8 0 Democratic-Greens
     Social Democrats of Sierra 17 0 Progressives
     Progressive Socialists of Sierra 4 0 Progressives
     Communist Party 1 0 No coalition
     Libertarian Party 66 0 Conservatives (ruling coalition)
     Royalist Party 93 2 Conservatives (ruling coalition)
     Remove Kebab Party 3 0 No coalition
     Prohibition Party 1 0 No coalition
     Democratic Samoan Party 0 1 Democratic-Greens
     Hawaiian Sovereignty Party 0 1 Conservative (ruling coalition)
Total 250 6
*Resident commissioner

See also

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