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Kenya National Assembly Leadership Delegation Visits Massachusetts and Florida

KNA Leadership Delegation with the Speaker Robert DeLeo and Hon. Gloria Fox

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KNA Leadership Delegation with the Speaker Robert DeLeo and Hon. Gloria Fox

SUNY/CID hosted a delegation of senior leaders from the Kenya National Assembly during their visits to Boston and Tallahassee as they met with counterparts in the Massachusetts and Florida legislatures from October 26 to November 9.

During their visit, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with legislative leaders, committee and caucus members, and house and senate Clerks. In Boston, the delegation was received with applause by the Senate and had an opportunity to meet Governor Deval Patrick and his staff. While in Florida, in addition to meeting with legislative leaders the delegation had the opportunity to visit the district office of U.S. Representative Steve Southerland.

Massachusetts was a particularly appropriate location for the first stop as home of the oldest, still functioning constitution in the United States. The framer of the Massachusetts Constitution, John Adams, was also one of the key writers of the U.S. Constitution which was a model for the new Kenyan Constitution. “The visit began at the beginning” according to one member of the delegation.

Hon. TJ Kajwang meets with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

Hon. TJ Kajwang meets with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

Massachusetts also leads the nation in K-12 education and the program was designed to examine their policy-making process, including meetings with legislators and legislative staff, state education officials, and the administrators and teachers implementing state policy at the secondary school level. The Massachusetts program culminated with a site visit to North Attleborough High School, where the delegation not only met with school administrators and education professionals but also with students. One member of the National Assembly repeatedly remarked that both the infrastructure and the curriculum standards were exemplary and something that would be more likely observed at the University level in Kenya. Furthermore, the Members commended the teachers and administrators for their commitment to educating young people as they—and not the infrastructure—provide the foundation for student’s success.

The Florida visit was designed to provide a contrast to the Massachusetts model. In addition to attending scheduled committee meetings, additional meetings were arranged with leaders in both chambers, where the delegation discussed strategies for improving relationships between the Senate and the House, how majority and minority parties can work together, and how to handle legislative-executive relations. In addition the delegation met with senior legislative staff and visited the democratic party headquarters.

This comparative examination of state legislatures arose in response to a SUNY/CID hosted study visit in August consisting of leaders from both houses of Parliament attending the NCSL Legislative Summit in Atlanta. During this summit delegates learned that while 49 states have bicameral legislatures, their operations differ. The process of legislating, oversight and budget making varies state to state. As a result of this summit, delegates determined that leadership should conduct a comparative study of US state legislative models.

See more of SUNY/CID's work in Kenya

Posted November 14, 2013