Legislation is law which has been
promulgated Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a new statutory or administrative law is enacted after its final approval. In some jurisdictions, this additional step is necessary before the law can take effect. After a new law is ...
(or " enacted") by a
legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with th ...
or other
governing body A governing body is a group of people that has the authority to exercise governance over an organization or political entity. The most formal is a government, a body whose sole responsibility and authority is to make binding decisions in a given geo ...
or the process of making it. Before an item of legislation becomes law it may be known as a
bill Bill(s) may refer to: Common meanings * Banknote, paper cash (especially in the United States) * Bill (law), a proposed law put before a legislature * Invoice, commercial document issued by a seller to a buyer * Bill, a bird or animal's beak Place ...
, and may be broadly referred to as "legislation", while it remains under consideration to distinguish it from other business. Legislation can have many purposes: to regulate, to authorize, to outlaw, to provide (funds), to sanction, to grant, to declare or to restrict. It may be contrasted with a non-legislative act which is adopted by an
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
or administrative body under the authority of a legislative act or for implementing a legislative act.


Legislation to design or amend a bill requires identifying a concrete issue in a comprehensive way. When engaging in legislation, drafters and policy-makers must take into consideration the best possible avenues to address problem areas. Possible solutions within bill provisions might involve implementing
sanctions A sanction may be either a permission or a restriction, depending upon context, as the word is an auto-antonym. Examples of sanctions include: Government and law * Sanctions (law), penalties imposed by courts * Economic sanctions, typically a ban ...
, targeting indirect behaviors, authorizing agency action, etc. Legislation is usually proposed by a member of the legislature (e.g. a member of Congress or Parliament), or by the executive, where upon it is debated by members of the legislature and is often amended before
. Most large legislatures enact only a small fraction of the bills proposed in a given
. Whether a given bill will be proposed is generally a matter of the legislative priorities of government. Legislation is regarded as one of the three main functions of government, which are often distinguished under the doctrine of the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state's government into branches, each with separate, independent powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of the other branches. The typical ...

separation of powers
. Those who have the formal power to ''create'' legislation are known as
legislator A legislator (or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes laws, especially someone who is a member of a legislature. Legislators are often elected by the people of the state. Legislatures may be supra-national (for example, the European Pa ...

s; a
judicial branch The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudicates legal disputes and interprets, defends, and applies the law in legal cases. ...

judicial branch
of government will have the formal power to ''interpret'' legislation (see
statutory interpretation Statutory interpretation is the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation. Some amount of interpretation is often necessary when a case involves a statute. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and a straightforward meaning ...

statutory interpretation
); the
executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state. The executive executes and enforces law. In political systems based on the principle of separation of powers, authority i ...

executive branch
of government can act only within the powers and limits set by the law, which is the instrument by which the fundamental powers of government are established. The function and procedures are primarily the responsibility of the legislature. However, there are situations where legislation is made by other bodies or means, such as when
constitutional law#REDIRECT Constitutional law#REDIRECT Constitutional law {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...

constitutional law
secondary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation, are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislative ...

secondary legislation
is enacted. Such other forms of law-making include
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct and universal vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal and can have nationwide or local forms. This may result in the adoption of a new ...

orders in council An Order in Council is a type of legislation in many countries, especially the Commonwealth realms. In the United Kingdom this legislation is formally made in the name of the monarch by and with the advice and consent of the Privy Council (''Queen- ...

orders in council
regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory, these types of rules exist in various fields of biology and society, but the term has slightly different meanings according to context. For ...

. The term ''legislation'' is sometimes used to include these situations, or the term ''
primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation, are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislative ...

primary legislation
'' may be used to exclude these other forms.

Public participation in legislation

All modern constitutions and fundamental laws contain and declare the concept and principle of popular sovereignty, which essentially means that the people are the ultimate source of public power or government authority. The concept of popular sovereignty holds simply that in a society organized for political action, the will of the people as a whole is the only right standard of political action. It can be regarded as an important element in the system of the checks and balances, and representative democracy. Therefore, the people are implicitly entitled even to directly participate in the process of law making. This role of linking citizens and their government and legislators is closely related to the concept of legitimacy. The exercise of democratic control over the legislative system and the policy-making process can occur even when the public has only an elementary understanding of the national legislative institution and its membership. Civic education is a vital strategy for strengthening public participation and confidence in the legislative process.

Dead letter

The phrase "dead letter" refers to legislation that has not been revoked, but that has become inapplicable, obsolete, or is no longer enforced.Dead Letter

See also

Rule according to higher law#REDIRECT Rule according to higher law#REDIRECT Rule according to higher law {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...

Rule according to higher law


External links

Most-Viewed Bills on Congress.gov
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Category:Legislatures {{Commons cat|Legislatures Category:Government institutions Category:Political congresses Category:Legal organizations Category:Public law Category:Separation of powers ^Leg ...

Category:Law by typeCategory:Categories by type ...

Category:Law by type