The core function of the Provincial Parliament is to make laws for the Western Cape. A proposed law is known as a bill and may be introduced by a Provincial Minister, standing committee or Member of the Provincial Parliament.
A bill introduced goes through various stages in the Provincial Parliament before it becomes law. Each stage (called a reading) must be approved before the bill can proceed to the next stage. This ensures careful consideration and allows for maximum input and participation by the public.
Upon introduction, bills are read a first time and distributed to all Members of the House. The Secretary to the Provincial Parliament publishes the bill for 21 days in the Provincial Gazette for public input. After 21 days the appropriate standing committee considers the bill, taking into account all comments received from the public and other interested groups. Having considered all inputs on the bill as provided by the committee and relevant role players, the committee reports to the House. The next stage (second reading) deals with the objects and principles of the bill. After second reading the bill can be referred to House for final amendments.
The final stage is called the third reading and if the House agrees to the third reading, it agrees to the bill. A copy of the bill, as passed by the House, is sent to the Premier for his/her signature (assent). Once the Premier has assented to a bill, it becomes an act of the province.
Certain bills dealing with financial matters, such as money bills, follow a slightly different route through the House. Such bills may only be introduced by the minister responsible for financial matters and are also not published for public comment. At this stage such bills may not be amended.