Legislators’ Guide to the Assembly
Welcome to the Legislators’ Guide to the Assembly! This document aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Assembly and its procedures to legislators and those looking to become one. Whether you’re a citizen interested in what being a legislator entails, a new legislator trying to understand our legislative process, or just want to read up on some detail about the Assembly, you’ve come to the right place ‒ hopefully this guide will be able to answer your questions!
If you have noticed an error or have other suggestions for improving this guide, please feel free to contact the current Chair of the Assembly or @Cryo.
Read the Guide
About the Assembly
The Assembly of the South Pacific (T.S.P.) is the primary legislative authority of the Coalition. The principal function of the Assembly is to pass bills (a proposal for a new law or a change to an existing one). However, beyond legislating, the Assembly also serves as a place where:
- elections for the Cabinet and the Chair of the Assembly, as well as the first round of the Delegate elections are held;
- the confirmation of High Court Justices take place; and,
- other similar appointments are presented and voted on (such as those to the Legislator Committee and the Council on Regional Security).
The Assembly makes new laws or amends laws currently in place. To make or amend a law, a legislator first introduces the bill in the Assembly’s Main Chamber. Other legislators will then comment and make suggestions to the bill. After an appropriate amount of time, the bill can be brought to a vote. A bill becomes law if a certain majority (simple or supermajority) votes to pass the bill. However, if the bill affects the game-side community of T.S.P., it will additionally be voted on in a regional poll.
Formation of Government
The Cabinet of T.S.P. is elected from among and by legislators. The Cabinet is responsible for managing crucial aspects of T.S.P.’s governance, such as foreign, regional, and military affairs. A nation needs to be a legislator to both contest an election for a Cabinet position as well as vote in that election. Many successful candidates for Cabinet have previously contributed to the Assembly in meaningful ways, such as writing bills or participating in debates.
Oversight of Government
The Assembly acts as a check and balance on the Government as part of a Separation of Powers. A Separation of Powers is where different groups of individuals possess powers unique to each group, to avoid any one group from monopolizing power. In T.S.P., the Assembly makes laws, the Cabinet administers the region, and the High Court interprets and applies the law.
Being a legislator allows you to debate and vote on our regional laws, as well as to vote in elections and run for office yourself. Attaining legislatorship is usually the first step you can take to contribute to the region and build up experience and a portfolio, which will be very useful for convincing others to vote for you when you run in an election.
Becoming a Legislator
Any person is eligible to become a legislator so long as:
- the Legislator Committee does not believe that they are seeking membership in bad faith;
- they have a nation in the South Pacific (it does not need to be the main nation, nor one holding World Assembly membership—although the latter is strongly recommended);
- are not attempting to join with multiple nations or identities; and,
- are not considered by the Council on Regional Security to be a significant risk to regional security.
If you would like to apply to become a legislator, just visit the Get Involved Wizard and follow the instructions stated in it. This will usually include opening the form, filling in the required information about yourself (such as your nation, significant aliases, and previous activities on NationStates), and selecting the bodies you’d like to apply for. After you’ve submitted the form, the Legislator Committee will process your legislator application. This will usually take a few days.
In order to maintain their status as a Legislator, a person must vote in at least half of the votes each month, given that there were two or more votes that month.
There are three exceptions to this:
- if a Legislator has received a Leave of Absence, they are exempt from the voting requirement for the period they are absent;
- new Legislators are exempt for the month in which they joined; or,
- the Chair of the Assembly may exercise their discretion and exempt a Legislator with extenuating circumstances.
Naturally, if a person no longer meets the requirements to become a legislator (mainly, maintaining a nation in the region), their legislator status will also be revoked.
Process of the Assembly
Before a law can be passed by the Assembly, it needs to go through the whole legislative procedure. The infographic below goes over everything that happens before a bill can become law. Further information can be found in the following sub-sections!
Any Legislator may introduce a proposal to the Assembly. Proposals can originate in two locations:
- Private Halls of the Assembly — for proposals which are highly sensitive such as Declarations of War, Treaties, and Security Matters; and,
- Main Chamber of the Assembly — for everything else.
A bill can be either a:
- General Matter — any bill which relates to general laws, amendments, resolutions, and appointments; or a,
- Constitutional Matter — any bill which deals with constitutional laws, constitutional amendments, resolutions dealing with matters of constitutional law, and treaties with foreign regions.
The Local Council can also propose amendments to the Charter, altering its constitutional structure. However, these amendments must go to the amendment process in the Assembly before they can be enacted.
All bills proposed to the Assembly must be compliant with the Law Standards Act, which describes how the different parts of a bill have to be formatted. Those guidelines, as well as applied examples, can also be found below:
Format of Bills
A fictitious law could look like this:
Format of Amendments
Amendments generally need to follow all the formatting rules for laws. However, due to their nature of changing parts of laws, there are additional rules on how to signal such changes to a law. A fictitious amendment could look like this:
Designation of Bills
All bills introduced to the Assembly are given a unique designation by the Chair of the Assembly. A bill designation has three main parts: [YEAR–ORDER.TYPE]
The year is easy enough; take the last two digits of the current year (e.g.  for 2023). For the order, the Chair notes bills down in the order they were introduced (e.g.  is the 12th bill proposed). And finally, all bills are given a type to make it easier to find a specific type of bill:
- AB (Assembly Bill) — Acts of the Assembly or an amendment to an Act (example).
- AP (Assembly Proposal) — A proposal is a discussion that lacks an actual bill (example).
- CN (Cabinet Nomination) — A nomination proposed by the Cabinet (example).
- FA (Foreign Affairs) — A treaty proposed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (example).
- MR (Motion to Recall) — A motion to recall an official from office (example).
- DE (Discretionary Edits) — A discretionary edit made by the Chair (example).
- AN (Administration Nomination) — A nomination proposed by the Off-site Admin Team (example on the old forums)
So a bill designated [2312.AB] is the 12th discussion of 2023, and is an Assembly Bill; and likewise [2247.MR] is the 47th discussion of 2022, and is a Motion to Recall.
- General Matters are debated for a minimum period of three days.
- Constitutional Matters are debated for a minimum period of five days.
If a debate leads to multiple bills or resolutions which address the same issue, the Chair of the Assembly will separately and simultaneously bring these competing bills or resolutions to vote, following the standard voting procedure. The bill or resolution that receives the most votes in favour and meets the minimum requirement for passage will become law.
The Chair may waive the minimum debate period if a Legislator motions for them to do so. This Motion must be Seconded by another Legislator. If there are no objections to the motion within twenty-four hours, the period may be waived.
Following the completion of the minimum debate period, any Legislator may Motion to Vote. This Motion must be Seconded by another Legislator before a vote can commence.
- General Matters are voted for a minimum period of three days.
- Constitutional Matters are voted for a minimum period of five days.
In the event of multiple bills or resolutions which address the same issue, the Chair will separately and simultaneously bring these competing bills or resolutions to vote, following the standard voting procedure. The bill or resolution that receives the most votes in favour and meets the minimum requirement for passage will become law.
The Chair will finalize the vote by counting the votes and determining whether the bill has passed or failed to pass. They will inform the Assembly of the result and amend any existing law (if the bill was an amendment)
- Bills regarding general laws, amendments, resolutions, and treaties require a simple majority of those voting to pass. Appointments, unless otherwise specified, require a simple majority of those voting to pass.
- Bills regarding constitutional laws, constitutional amendments, and resolutions dealing with matters of constitutional law require a three-fifths super-majority of those voting to pass. Treaties require a simple majority of those voting to pass.
Any bill passed by the Assembly which affects the game-side community or its home-side governance does not immediately take effect. Rather, it proceeds to the Local Council who will arrange for it to be debated and voted upon by the game-side community. Only after it has passed the game-side vote can the bill take effect.
The Assembly has two primary managers, namely the Office of the Chair of the Assembly and the Legislator Committee.
The membership roster for each of them can be found in the List of Officials and Dates of Elections in this thread.
Office of the Chair of the Assembly
The Office of the Chair comprises the Chair of the Assembly themselves, as well as any of their appointed deputies.
Similarly to what a Cabinet minister is to their respective government ministry, the Office of the Chair is responsible for the day-to-day administrative management of the Assembly, which mainly consists of opening and closing votes on time, ensuring that the whole legislative process is duly followed by legislators, and providing for a constructive atmosphere in the Assembly.
An in-depth breakdown of the Chair’s duties, including guidelines on how to fulfil them, can be found in the Chair Guide in this thread.
The Legislator Committee is the commission responsible for granting and revoking Legislator Status to members. It is a separate and independent institution from the Office of the Chair of the Assembly and has no political function.