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Senate of Sierra
Senado de Sierra (es)
黃金王國參議院 (zh)
Thượng viện của Sierra (vn)
시에라의 상원 (kr)
วุฒิสภาของเซีย (th)
Senado ng Sierra (tl)
シエラ国上院 (ja)
Serran SSerran ESerran NSerran A  Serran KSerran I  Serran SSerran ESerran RSerran RSerran A (sb)
79th Senate of Sierra
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Steven HongDR
Since December 16, 2008
Senate President pro tempore
Erica ShinagawaR
Since October 16, 2014
Majority Leader
Marcus Gutierrez, R
Since October 16, 2014
Minority Leader
Malcom Siegel, DR
Structure
Seats 77 (including the President)
Senate of Sierra composition 2014
Political groups
  Democratic-Republican Party: 35 seats
  Royalist Party: 34 seats
  Libertarian Party: 2 seats
  Green Party: 2 seats
  Social Democrats: 1 seat
  Hawaiian Sovereignty: 2 seats
Committees 23
Joint committees
6
Elections
Last election
2014
Last election
2014
Meeting place
Parliament Building of Sierra
Senate Chamber, Parliament Building, Porciúncula, GC
Website
senate.gc.ks

The Senate of Sierra is a legislative chamber of the national legislature that, together with the House of Commons and the Monarchy, compose the Parliament of Sierra that has jurisdiction over all of the Kingdom including the Deseret, Hawaii, Sierra, and the territories. The upper house, the Senate convenes in the Senatorial Chamber inside the Parliament Building, a large complex located in a federally owned section of Downtown Porciúncula. All 76 senators are elected directly by the general populace and each province, state, or region is accorded to two senators, regardless of population. Senators are elected to six years and re-elected based on a staggered electoral cycle of two years. The Prime Minister, who is also a member of the Senate as its president, is also elected directly but by the Kingdom as a whole.

The composition and powers provided for the Senate are invested in Section II of Article V of the Constitution of Sierra. As the upper house, the Senate has several exclusive powers not granted to the House including confirming executive appointments of certain officials, consenting to treaties prior to ratification, and overseeing the trial of impeached officials. Bills pertaining to money and budgetary issues however, must originate in the House of Commons, not the Senate. Although the Senate is considered the upper house, the distinction does not imply its superiority over the House of Commons, rather, all of its members and officers outrank those in the House for the sake of protocol. Traditionally however, the Senate has been perceived as the more prestigious and respectable chamber out of the two. Indeed, with longer terms, a smaller membership, and wider representation, membership in the Senate is perceived to be second, if not equal to serving in the executive branch in terms of power and status.

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. Its paramount jurisdiction over the Kingdom is reaffirmed through the Charter for the Kingdom of Sierra. All legislation requires being reviewed and agreed upon by both houses although there are several exclusive powers conferred to both houses. For the Senate, additional powers and regulations pertaining to the Senate are mentioned in Sections II and VII of Article V.

The Senate of the Kingdom shall be composed of two Senators from each Province, chosen by the Electorate thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

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

In the Senate, the Prime Minister serves the dual role of representing the Monarch in Parliament as the civil executive head and a voting Speaker as the President of the Senate. The smaller of the two houses in terms of size, the Senate is composed of 76 senators (with 2 senators elected each from their respective provinces, states, or regions). As the upper house, the Senate oversees the legislative approval of executive actions including acts of royal prerogative. It is often perceived that the Senate is by far the more prestigious of the two chambers as senators represent entire provinces rather than local constituencies and work in a smaller albeit closer environment.

In the Senate, all members serve six-year terms but only one-third face an election every 2 years. The first year of a consecutive term of a senator was elected determines which of the three electoral "classes" he/she will be enrolled in. Elections are held every 2 years with one of the classes cycled in for the requirement and the process completes every 6 years. Senators, like commoners, are are elected directly by the people but senators are elected in provincial-wide elections whereas commoners are elected by constituents from parliamentary districts.

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 Parliament 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

Senate of Sierra chamber

The Chamber Room where the Senate convenes on a daily basis.

As a chamber of the Parliament, the national legislature, all bills and laws originate from either the Senate or the House. 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 not in the Senate, but in 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 Sierran federal government revolves around the principle of the separation of powers in government. In an effort to keep any one branch from exerting complete authority, there is a checks and balances system in place. The Senate, has a special role, in checking the powers of both the executive and judicial branch. Conversely, it, along with the House, are checked by the other two branches.

Specifically, the Senate has the reserved right including to "advise and consent" prime ministerial appointments; to consent to any foreign agreements or treaties; or to administer any impeachment trial against government officials. All of these powers are granted to Senate to prevent the executive branch from making unfair appointments, engaging Sierra in unfavorable alliances or international agreements, or leaving impeachment trials in the hands of non-elected judiciary.

Although the Prime Minister may appoint select officials, most require the advice and consent of the Senate. Such officials include members of the Cabinet (Cabinet-level officials such as the Presidential Palace Chief of Staff are exempt), heads of most federal agencies, ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, or federal judges. While the Constitution provides that most government appointments be confirmed by the Senate, Parliament has passed legislation allowing the Prime Minister to make various appointments without the Senate's direct approval. In addition, while the Senate may be required to approve certain appointments, standard removals from office do not require consent.

While the Senate has a role in ratifying treaties, ultimately, most international agreements or treaties are not treated as treaties themselves under Sierra law. Constitutionally, the creation of treaties is a prerogative right of the Monarch but he/she may relegate this power unto his/her prime minister. Before a treaty can become enforceable and legally binding in the Kingdom, the Senate must ratify it, requiring two-thirds of the chamber for it to occur. In order to circumvent constitutional requirements, Parliament has passed legislation authorizing the creation of executive agreements (requiring no action by Senate) or joint-body agreements (requiring only a simple majority of approval by Senate).

In regards to impeachment, the House of Commons may impeach officials but the Senate is vested with the power to try such impeachments. If the incumbent Prime Minister is being tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court leads and presides over the trial. During the trial, senators are constitutionally obligated to enter the session under oath or affirmation. In addition, the quorum of the trial must be no less than two-thirds of the entire chamber. Conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate to support it and those convicted are automatically relinquished of their office, privileges, and titles. Further legal proceedings may be taken against the impeached official through the criminal or administrative courts. `

Membership

Qualifications

Constitution of Sierra

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

The Constitution provides several qualifications a prospective senator must fulfill in order to be eligible. Subsection III, Section II 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 Territories within 5 years.

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 by the Supreme Court in 1874 in the Janis v. Senate of the Kingdom of Sierra case when Tyler Janis, a missionary from San Joaquin, was elected as one of his province's senator. However, he and his family made frequent, extended trips to China for missionary work. Having returned to Sierra three years prior to his election, he only resided in Sierra for "three consecutive years". The Senate decided to bar Janis from entry citing the Constitution, prompting Janis to file a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court.

Actual residency however, does apply to whether or not a candidate is eligible to run for a province. He/she must have resided in the province he/she wishes to represent within 120 days of his/her confirmation into office. Although 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 term

All senators are directly elected by the constituents of their respective provinces. Senators serve six year terms each and terms are stacked thrice two years apart. Every two years, roughly a third of the Senate (14-15 senators) must renew their terms through an election in order to continue service. Senators who have the same year of reelection are categorized into "classes". Classes do not imply or denote seniority, status, or special privileges; their sole purpose is to determine who and when senatorial seats are up for election. All senators may serve an unlimited amount of terms both consecutively and non-consecutively.

Oath

The Constitution requires that all senators taking office take an oath or affirmation prior to taking office. The Parliament has mandated that the following be said:

I, [Senator's name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as an official elected by his/her constituents, a subject to His/Her Royal Highness, and Civil Servant to the Sierrans, that I will faithfully execute the powers ascribed upon me by the Constitution. I declare that any and all actions I undertake shall be scrutinized to the fullest extent and that I shall only work in the interests of the People and the State. Ten thousand years, glory, glory to the King/Queen!

The senator has the personal choice of adding in the following phrase at the end of his/her oath: So help me God (or Providence). If a monarch was officially declared dead by the royal coroner within the last seven days, the oath is modified to say ""...Ten thousand years, the King/Queen is dead, glory, glory to the King/Queen...".

All oaths must be administered by either the Prime Minister (who is the President of the Senate), the president pro tempore, or another high-ranking official with the capacity to administer such oaths. The Prime Minister has his/her own special oath which is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Privileges and salary

As of the 2014-15 legislative year, the salary of a senator ranges between $65,000 to $145,000 (based on seniority, experience, and contributions). The president pro tempore and party leaders receive a higher salary range of $180,000 to $200,000. The majority of these senators' income depends on this payroll. In addition to the salary, senators 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 senator's paycheck. While senators 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, senators enjoy franking and parliamentary privileges (such as freedom from arrest from most actions). Although senators have the right to speak on the Senate floor, there are internal rules and parliamentary procedures which dictate when and how senators may speak during a session.

Seniority

Seniority is based on the cumulative years of service and experience a senator has had while in Senate. Seniority not only affects the selection process for certain positions but one's order of precedence in the government, and salary. The senator with the longer tenure in each province is known as the "senior senator" whereas the other is a "junior senator".

Expulsion and other disciplinary actions

The Constitution grants the Senate the power to expel any member by a two-thirds vote. The alternative to an impeachment (which applies to executive and judiciary officials), expulsion itself is considered an exceptionally severe punishment and is rarely used.

Censuring is a softer yet potent punishment used to publicly disown or disapprove certain members for their words, actions, or behavior. Censuring an official requires a simple majority as opposed to the two-thirds required for expulsion.

Alternatively, the senator may be named by either the President or president pro tempore which is a temporary suspension or removal of the offending senator from the floor. When a senator is named, he/she will not receive any of his/her financial payment for the duration of the suspension. However, the senator may request an appeal and be allowed back into the floor before the suspension expires at the discretion of the President or president pro tempore.

Senators may not request an appeal if censured or expelled–the restoration of powers or status may be granted by a parliamentary decision from two-thirds of the Senate.

Structure

The Senate is officially composed of 44 senators and a special senator: the President or Speaker, who is also the Prime Minister. With the exception of the President all 44 senators are elected from their provinces. Each province is allocated an equal representation of two senators while the Prime Minister is regarded as a senator by his/her own right, representing the entire Kingdom at-large. In addition, there are non-member positions known as apolitical posts or apolitical officials who serve mainly to assist senators or ensure the parliamentary process runs smoothly. Such posts include the Senate chaplain, pages, standard-bearers, clerks, and the Secretary of the Senate.

Seating

Traditionally, the Royalists have been seated to the right of the President's dais and the Democratic-Republicans left of the dais while all other party members are seated directly ahead of the dais in the crossbench.

Officers

President

Steven Hong speaking

Steven Hong, the current Prime Minister and Senate President of Sierra.

The President, or the Speaker of the Senate, is the primary presiding officer. Constitutionally, the Prime Minister is the President by ex officio and is responsible for regulating discussion and debates, ruling on points of order, executing disciplinary actions, and announcing the results of votes. Although he/she is free to participate and vote, it is generally encouraged that because of his/her political disposition and status, he/she should not become involved unless a tie-breaking vote is needed. Because the Prime Minister's foremost role is to serve as the executive head of government, he/she is not usually present in the Senate. To circumvent this issue, the Senate may elect a president pro tempore (Latin: For a time) who is generally the most senior senator of the majority party. When neither the President or the president pro tempore are present or able to preside over the Senate (which is almost always the case), the duties of the President are delegated to other senators of the majority party based on a scheduled rotation.

Party leaders

In both houses, the parties elect a leader and a whip, who serves as the chief spokesperson for their party. Party leaders influence and set the legislative agenda for their party, manage and coordinate partisan affairs, and ensure the senatorial schedule runs smoothly. Generally, the party leader is the most senior senator of that party affiliation. The parties also elect an assistant to the party leader, known as a whip. The primary purpose of whips is to rally and gather votes from their party members and dissidents on particular bills or issues.

The leader of the party with the most seats in Senate is referred to as the Majority Leader (by extension then, the whip is known as the Majority Whip) while the leader of the second largest party is referred to as the Opposition Leader. The third largest, and thus, the smallest, is known as the Minority Leader.

Apolitical posts

Alongside the members of the Senate, there are members on staff at the floor aimed towards assisting general operations and providing services for the senators. 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 Senate (who records all sessions, maintains records, and forwards requests from senators), clerks (who assist the Secretary in filing paperwork and aiding the procedural process), the Senate 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 Senate wing), the Chaplain (responsible for starting each session with a prayer and providing general pastoral/religious services for senators), the Standard-Bearer (responsible for holding the flag and initiating pledges), and pages (young interns who assist individual senators 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 Senate has been given to the Royal Broadcasting Corporation, a private news network which runs the Sierra Educational News Television (SENT). The channel SENT-1 is dedicated entirely to coverage on the Senate and events relevant to its members.

Committees

The Senate is organized into individual committees whose members are responsible for 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. Senators are assigned committees through a Senate-wide election. Within each committee, standing members elect their heads who oversee the administrative process of the committee. 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 (16 permanent standing committees and 7 select committees) and 69 subcommittees. In addition, the Senate and the House have six joint committees together.

Committee
  Subcommittees
Committee of the Whole
Committee on Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resources
  Subcommittee on Agricultural Security
Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade
Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Rural Development and Growth
Subcommittee on National Parks and Federally Protected Areas
Subcommittee on Nutrition and Health
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 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 Children, Teenagers, and Family
Subcommittee on Elderly, Health, and Aging
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 Senatorial Services, Refreshments, and Fellowship
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
Select Committees on Special Issues
 
Select Committee on Cancer Research and Cure
Select Committee on Elections and Partisan Policy
Select Committee on Ethics
Select Committee on the Investigation of the San Diego Bombings (joint)
Select Committee on Mental Health and Policy
Select Committee on Native Sierran Affairs
Select Committee on Sports and Athletic Competitions

Current composition and electoral results

The party composition of the Senate during the 78th Parliament is as follows:

Affiliation Members Coalition
     Democratic-Republican Party 35 Progressive (ruling coalition)
     Green Party 2 Progressive (ruling coalition)
     Hawaiian Sovereignty Party 2 Progressive (ruling coalition)
     Libertarian Party 2 Conservatives
     Royalist Party 34 Conservatives
     Social Democrats of Sierra 1 Progressive (ruling coalition)
Total 45

The 79th Senate convenes during the 2016-17 legislative year. It began on October 16, 2016 and will end on October 15, 2017.

See also

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