Session on session, the parliament keeps registering increasingly more legislative initiatives. Thus, as of June, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada of the 9th convocation registered 3,696 draft laws but as little as 12% of them have been passed. Meanwhile, over the same period, the Verkhovna Rada of the 8th convocation registered more initiatives – 4,602. At the same time, they approved more of them, too – 14%.
Analysts of the Civil Network OPORA have explored into the process of registering and passing the draft laws before. This report analyzes the efficiency of the process of an abridged procedure for reviewing draft laws, and whether it is actually faster.
The review procedure for legislative initiatives
Each legislative initiative registered in the parliament has an established review procedure. Thus, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada, within five days upon registration, each draft law shall be sent to the relevant committee designated as the principal committee for preparation and review of the draft law. The principal committee shall, within thirty days, run a preliminary assessment of the draft law and issue an opinion on the expediency of its inclusion in the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada’s session.
Also, a temporary special commission may be set up to review a draft law, which performs the functions of the principal committee. The issue of including the draft law in the agenda of the session shall be considered by the Verkhovna Rada within 30 days after the adoption of the opinion of the principal committee or the temporary special commission, but not earlier than two days after the opinion of the principal committee. If the principal committee fails to make a decision on entering the draft law on the agenda of the session, the Verkhovna Rada, within 15 days after the written request from the subject of the legislative initiative, shall consider the draft law at the plenary session and decide to add it to the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada session or to provide the principal committee with additional time to prepare an opinion thereon. All registered draft laws shall be submitted to MPs for review at the beginning of the working day, following the day of sending the draft law to the principal committee (or a temporary special commission, in case it is created), but not earlier than the day of its placement in the database of draft laws of the electronic computer network of the Verkhovna Rada website. An alternative draft law may also be submitted to the key draft law, within 14 days after the day the first draft law on the relevant issue is made available to the people’s deputies.
How can the draft law review be expedited? To qualify for an abridged procedure, it can be defined as urgent; the time frame may be shortened for introducing alternative draft laws, for suggesting proposals and amendments to draft laws; deadlines for submitting draft laws to MPs may be scheduled earlier, or time lines for consideration of draft laws in committees may be decreased. It is not allowed to reduce these terms by over 50%.
Draft laws may be processed during four readings. The first and the second readings could be appointed repeatedly. Verkhovna Rada may resolve to admit the final approval of the draft law (except for draft codes and bills with over 100 articles or paragraphs) immediately after the first or the second reading, if a draft law is recognized as such that does not require improvements, or if no remarks were received on its content from MPs, other legislative subjects, from legal or expert departments of the Executive Office of the Verkhovna Rada.
Upon review, a draft law may be either rejected, or adopted, or forwarded for improvements, or brought forward for discussion (in the first reading).
Over 30% of draft laws are processed in the committees, 20% are withdrawn
Another important issue is the review status for draft laws. During the period of activity of the Verkhovna Rada of the 9th convocation, 833 drafts (22%) were reviewed of the total number of registered initiatives. Most draft laws were processed in the committees - 38%. 20% of draft laws were withdrawn from consideration. 12% were signed.
The President and the Government are more effective in legislative activity, their initiatives are adopted the fastest
According to Article 89 of the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the right of legislative initiative in the Verkhovna Rada belongs to the President of Ukraine, People’s Deputies, and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Most draft laws are registered by people’s deputies. Thus, in the 9th convocation, they registered 3,126 draft laws. 428 initiatives were submitted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. 142 draft laws were registered upon the initiative of the President.
57% of draft laws initiated by the President of Ukraine were adopted. 17% of government initiatives became laws. Most draft laws were initiated by deputies, but the least of them were eventually adopted – 9%.
The shortest consideration procedure was also typical of the presidential initiatives. Thus, the average time for review and adoption of draft laws submitted by Volodymyr Zelenskyi is 92 days. The fastest path to pass (from the moment of registration to signing) – as short as 5 days – was taken by the draft law №3669 on aspects concerning the completion of the academic year 2019/2020. It exempted the school leavers from taking the state final certifying examination. The longest path was taken by the presidential initiative (currently the effective law) to review the draft law №3553 on improving the fulfilment of military duty and keeping the military register. It took 329 days. The draft law brought into compliance the system of military register and operations of local military administration authorities with the NATO standards.
Draft laws initiated by the Cabinet of Ministers take the average of 120 days to be processed. Among the governmental initiatives, the fastest case (10 days) was about adopting the draft law №3254 on extending the signed contracts with business operators on continuous provision of catering for the military. The longest case was about reviewing the draft law №0934 “On Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons” — 551 days. It had an objective to allow an opportunity to get all the paperwork done for work permit for foreign citizens and stateless persons (for private domestic workers and local staff at foreign diplomatic missions).
As to initiatives of people’s deputies, it takes on average 141 days to adopt them. The fastest consideration procedure was taken by two draft laws – №3219 and №3220. It took 2 days to review each initiative. The draft laws covered the issues related to containment and prevention of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and they were initiated by groups of people’s deputies. The draft law No 3219 covered the issues of protection of rights of private individuals and legal entities during the quarantine, and under the restrictive measures related to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). No 3220 regulated the introduction of tax and non-tax preferences related to the terms for paying taxes, doing payrolls for the days of compelled idle time, the terms to submit tax declarations a.o., to protect small and medium enterprises, as well as big businesses, from the negative consequences and because of their inability to use the economic capacity. The longest procedure was typical of the draft law №2051-1 on restricting the circulation of plastic bags on the territory of Ukraine — it took 629 days. The goal of the draft law was to restrict the circulation of plastic bags in retail and to incentivize the manufacturing of biodegradable plastic bags.
In general, the average time for passing a draft law registered in the Rada of the 9th convocation was 121 days.
Unlike the 9th convocation, the 8th Rada had a longer adoption time. Thus, the average adoption time for one draft law was 198 days.
The President and the Government of the 8th convocation can also be described as more efficient in their legislative activities. At that time, 90% of draft laws registered by the President were eventually adopted. The indicator for the Government is 35%, and for the deputies — 9%. Average adoption time for the presidential initiatives was 78 days, for the government — 144 days, and for deputy-initiated drafts — 260 days.
Most initiatives concern the economic policy. The fewest initiatives were about security and defense. Draft laws on government-supported construction programs are adopted the fastest.
Subject-wise, most of the registered draft laws concern economic policy — 1,163 draft laws. Fewer cases were about legal policy (821) and industry development (805). 362 draft laws regulate social policy matters, 234 — government-supported construction. The lowest number of draft laws concerned international agreements (109) and humanitarian policy (108), as well as security and defense (94).
As to efficiency of adoption, the highest share of adopted draft laws concerned international agreements (72 draft laws, or 66%). 17% or 16 draft laws were adopted on security and defense, 13% (106) concerned industry development. In economic policy, the total number of adopted laws is 11% (124), in legal policy — 10% (72). The smallest number of adopted laws concerned state construction (9%, 21 draft laws), humanitarian policy (8%, 9 draft laws), and social policy (6%, 20 draft laws).
The fastest adoption time was typical of initiatives on state construction — 86 days on average. Draft laws regulating international agreements take 92 days to be adopted, economic policy — 111 days. Humanitarian policy draft laws need the average of 130 days to be adopted, legal policy — 135 days.
On the other hand, the longest processing time goes for draft laws on security and defense — 156 days, industry development — 163, and social policy — 197 days, on average.
The Rada of the 8th convocation, similar to the current parliament, also had most draft laws about economic development — 1,505 initiatives. Another 1,164 draft laws covered industry development; 834 cases were about legal policy. The lowest number of draft laws was registered in humanitarian policy — 72. 125 draft laws concerned international agreements. 162 — security and defense. The highest number of adopted draft laws — 99 (79%) — related to international agreements. The lowest number — 20 (6%) — concerned government-supported construction.
The fastest track went for draft laws on international agreements. The average adoption time for them was 53 days. The longest processing time went for issues related to humanitarian policy — 375 days, on average.
Rada goes fastest on the initiatives from the “European Solidarity”, whereas proposals from “Batkivshchyna” take the longest
In terms of parties, the shortest adoption time in the 9th Rada went for draft laws initiated by the representatives of the “European Solidarity” faction — 118 days. Other fast initiatives come from the “Dovira” group (126 days) and the “Opposition Platform — For Life” (126 days). The initiatives from non-factional deputies usually require 137 days for review. The average time for draft laws from the ”Holos” is 138 days. The initiatives from the “Servant of the People” take the longest (141 days), as well as draft laws from the “For the Future” (163 days) and Batkivshchyna (183 days).
On the other hand, in the parliament of the 8th convocation, the fastest adopted initiatives came from the faction of the “Radical Party of Oleh Liashko” — 173 days. The draft laws initiated by the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” were usually considered for 246 days, from the “Popular Front” — 271 days. To adopt the laws initiated by the deputies from the faction of the Batkivshchyna AU, it took 275 days; from “Self-Reliance Union” — 295 days. The longest adoption procedure was experienced by draft laws initiated by the group “Will of the People” — 300 days, “Vidrodzhennia” — 312 days, and “Opposition Bloc” — 369 days.
In our assessment of draft laws registered by the representatives of factions, we also accounted for the co-authored initiatives.
Who is responsible for the current policy?
The analysis of the authorship of draft laws adopted by the parliament can help find out the share of ownership various legislative subjects take for the current policy. Of the total number of laws adopted by the 9th parliament, 66% were submitted by the MPs, 18% were initiated by the President, and 16% draft laws were registered by the Cabinet. Therefore, the MPs are equally responsible for the current policy making and the update of the legal framework in Ukraine than the Government or the President. Furthermore, the responsibility lies not only on the deputies from the mono-majority but also on other political forces if their draft laws were supported and turned into laws.
The largest contribution to the adopted draft laws was made by MPs from the “Servant of the People” faction (88%). Deputies from the “Holos” and “Batkivshchyna” contributed to the development of 24% of adopted draft laws. Deputies from the “Opposition Platform – For Life,” from the groups “Dovira,” “For the Future,” and the “European Solidarity” contributed to 19% of approved draft laws, each party respectively.
Abridged review procedure of draft laws: what rules apply?
In theory, in order to consider the draft laws faster, the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada foresee the following approaches:
- Abridged discussion of issues on the plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada;
- Abridged terms for entering the alternative draft laws, presenting the draft laws to people’s deputies, and reduced terms for considering the draft laws in the committees.
In total, of the 8,400 votes over the term of the 9th Verkhovna Rada, 689 underwent the abridged consideration procedure. In most cases, the votes went for various draft laws – 542 votes or over 78%, but also for resolutions or decisions – 147 (22%).
Consideration of draft laws with the shortened discussion
Unlike the full procedure, the abridged procedure does not provide for reports and co-reports from the participants of the legislative process, or a final presentation, questions or comments to them. The abridged procedure to discuss the issues on the plenary session includes a report from the proposal initiator and the chair/representative of the principal committee, and also from two factions supporting the bill, and from two factions speaking against the initiative. The chair of the plenary session announces the proposals to be put up for voting. The deputy factions and groups may choose 1 representative for each to speak on the draft law brought forward for discussion.
In total, 538 draft laws were reviewed under an abridged procedure in the Verkhovna Rada. Of them, 275 bills passed (51%).
The average adoption term for such draft laws is 134 days, which is even higher than the average adoption time for draft laws under a full procedure (with no abridged discussion), which is 121 days.
The following draft laws were adopted under an abridged procedure the fastest:
- №3219 on changes to certain legal acts of Ukraine designed to prevent the contraction and dissemination of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The draft law was initiated by a group of deputies and adopted in 2 days;
- №4672 on reimbursement due to increased electricity tariffs. Initiated by a group of deputies and adopted in 3 days;
- №3669 on the completion of the academic year 2019/2020, such as exempting the school leavers from taking the state final certifying examination. The draft law was initiated by the President; it was adopted and signed 5 days upon registration.
The following draft laws took the longest to be adopted:
- №2164 on introducing changes to the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine to ensure the unavoidable punishment for persons committing criminal offense who left the country or stay in other countries to avoid criminal liability. The draft law was initiated by a people’s deputy from the “Servant of the People” faction, Vladlen Nekliudov. It took the longest to pass it in the Verkhovna Rada – 600 days;
- №1111 on financial leasing. The draft law was initiated by a people’s deputy from the “Servant of the People,” Danylo Hetmantsev. It was signed as long as 559 upon registration;
- №2458 on regulating the shift to contract-based housing utility services, initiated by a group of MPs. It took 537 days to pass the draft law.
The biggest share of draft laws under an abridged review have already been adopted and signed by the President — 51% (275 draft laws). Another 14% (77 draft laws) are underway for signing, and 10% (51) — have been presented but taken off the table.
Over the same period, the Rada of the 8th convocation considered 712 draft laws under an abridged procedure. 454 (64%) were adopted. The average adoption time of the draft laws in the previous convocation lasted longer — 170 days. However, it was shorter than for draft laws that were reviewed under a general procedure.
Reducing the term for draft laws review
The Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine establish that in the process of working on the draft law, a decision may be made on reducing the term for submitting alternative draft laws, proposals and amendments, on reducing the term for making draft laws available for people’s deputies, and the term for reviewing draft laws in committees. At the same time, the term may not be reduced by over 50%. Another limitation for reduction concerns the draft codes or other draft laws with over 100 articles or paragraphs.
The procedure for reducing the term was applied in the 9th Verkhovna Rada to 50 draft laws. Of them, 29 draft laws were adopted (58%).
Average adoption time of the draft laws is 98 days, which is shorter than the general adoption procedure (131 days).
Draft laws adopted under an abridged term that took the shortest:
- №4672 on reimbursement due to increased electricity tariffs. Initiated by a group of deputies and adopted in 3 days;
- №5247 on government support for registration of vaccines or other medical immune-biological drugs under an obligation to release manufacturers from civil liability for certain risks that may occur due to the use of the vaccines, and simplifying the procedure of getting them. The draft law was initiated by the Cabinet of Ministers. It took 11 days to adopt;
- №4430 on social support for tax payers for the period of restrictive anti-epidemic measures introduced to contain the acute respiratory disease COVID-19, and №4613 on government registration of medications under an obligation to adapt the Ukrainian law in line with the EU framework. Draft law №4430 was initiated by the President, and №4613 came from a group of people’s deputies. It took 13 days for both draft laws to pass.
Draft laws that took the longest:
- №3612 on regulating procedures for popular will through the national referendum. The draft law was initiated by the President of Ukraine. The draft law had the longest adoption time of all other draft laws with abridged procedures — 304 days;
- №3497 on eliminating legal collisions in the requirements on the statute of limited liability companies and companies with supplementary liability. The draft law was registered by a group of people’s deputies. It was signed 283 days upon registration;
- №3760 on government support for investment projects with big investments to incentivize the attraction of strategic investors into Ukraine’s economy. The draft law was registered upon presidential initiative, and the adoption time was 225 days.
Currently, most draft laws (58%) have been signed by the President, and 8% have been submitted for signing.
The procedure for abridged processing time has not been applied in the first two years of operations of the 8th Rada.