By Katherine Boyce
Building on the decades-long relationship with legislators and staff members in Kenya, NCSL welcomed eight staff members from the Kenya National Senate to Santa Fe and Salt Lake City in late April at the request of the Kenya Senate.
The primary goal for NCSL was to assist in the establishment of new member orientation programs in the Kenyan Parliament.
Such a program will help newly elected legislators learn how to make use of staff and other legislative resources, interact with constituents, and gain exposure to the duties and rules inherent to their role as legislators. Kenya’s second election for the Senate under the new constitution will occur in early August, and the high expected turnover necessitates an effective and comprehensive orientation program.
The delegates enjoyed two full days at the New Mexico Legislature, where they heard from the Clerks, Drafting Services, Legislative Finance Committee, Legislative Affairs and Research departments. They were also pleased to attend sessions at NCSL’s Executive Committee meeting and interact with many NCSL members, sharing lessons learned, struggles and successes of their recent work. The clerk of the Kenya Senate made a presentation at the Task Force on International Relations meeting about the recent transitions that have taken place in Kenya.
In Utah, the delegation was warmly received by legislative staff members from a range of departments. The Kenyans met with representatives of the offices of the Legislator Auditor General, Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Legislative Research and General Counsel. They were pleased to discuss relations between the Houses with the clerk of the House and the secretary of the Senate. While in Salt Lake City, the delegation had the opportunity to attend an organ recital at the Tabernacle and a behind-the-scenes tour of the music facilities.
All participants reported that they were extremely likely to use what they had learned during the seminar in their work in the parliament.
“Working with NCSL on this study tour has given my colleagues and I invaluable insights into the workings of the American system of government on which our own system has been modeled. This is because legislative capacity development is best achieved through benchmarking, apprenticeship and networking with colleagues. … We hope that the relationship we have started between the Senate of Kenya and NCSL will continue to grow for the mutual benefit of our organizations," said Jeremiah Nyegenye, clerk of the Kenya National Senate.
Katherine Boyce is a policy associate for International Programs at NCSL.