Legislation: The legislative power is strictly separated from the judicial and executive (administrative) powers ( Separation of Powers) Depending on the allocation of competences, laws are either passed by the Nationalrat and the Bundesrat (federal laws) or by the Landtag (provincial laws). The legislative process is governed by provisions of the Federal and Provincial Constitutions and the rules of procedure of the respective legislative bodies.
In respect of certain matters (e.g. child welfare) the Federal government only sets out the general principles, according to which the Laender act by passing implementing statutes.
I. Federal legislation
1) Bills can be introduced by individual members in the form of private member´s bills, which require the support of at least 5 members of the Nationalrat, by committees of the Nationalrat, by the Government (Government bill), by motions of the Bundesrat, or through popular initiatives. In practice, bills are generated by the political parties, while certain bodies (such as the Chambers) can submit opinions.
2) Deliberations in the Nationalrat: There are up to three readings in the Nationalrat. In the first reading the general principles of the bill are discussed. In most cases the bill is then passed on to a committee by the president of the Nationalrat. During the second reading a general debate is held (= general deliberation of the bill as a whole) and followed by a special debate (which deals with individual items of the bill). If the bill is at that stage neither rejected nor referred back to the committee, the third reading follows and the whole bill is voted on.
3) Participation of the Bundesrat to safeguard the interests of the provinces: When a bill has been passed by the National Assembly it has to be presented to the Bundesrat, which can raise objection within 8 weeks. If a reasoned objection is raised, the matter is referred back to the Nationalrat. The Nationalrat can overrule the objection by a vote in the presence of at least half of its members.
4) Special procedures: The Bundesrat cannot raise an objection against certain bills, such as bills containing dispositions over Federal assets, the dissolution of the Nationalrat and Finance Acts. In certain cases the Laender and/or the Bundesrat have the right to declare their consent.
5) Signature: A bill is signed into law by the signature of the Federal president and the countersignature of the Federal chancellor.
6) Promulgation of laws: The signed law has to be published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt, BGBL). Unless otherwise provided, the law becomes effective on the day after publication in the BGBL.
II. Provincial Legislation
Provincial laws are passed by the respective Landtag according to a procedure similar to the one that applies to Federal legislation. Notice of the acts has to be given to the Federal Chancellery. After scrutiny, the Federal government can, if necessary, give its approval or raise an objection within 8 weeks on grounds that the act is in conflict with federal interests. The Landtag can reaffirm its decision and in this way overrule the objection. The act is then published by the head of the provincial government (Landeshauptmann - provincial governor) in the Landesgesetzblatt (provincial law gazette).