Legislation can refer to laws or the process by which they are enacted in certain countries. Many countries have some form of legislature, which is a body dedicated primarily to passing and amending laws. In the US, the federal legislature is known as Congress and is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Other countries have similar bodies, such as Parliament in the United Kingdom. Many countries also have local legislative bodies, such as the US state legislatures that are capable of enacting their own statutory laws.
When a piece of legislation is enacted, it is often referred to as a statutory law. This can be contrasted with case law, which is typically derived from judicial rulings. Before a law is enacted, it is often called a bill. Bills are typically proposed or sponsored by one or more legislators and go through a particular process before they become law.
The process by which a law is enacted can differ depending on the government in question. When a bill is first proposed, it may enter some form of preliminary committee where the language is drawn up and certain aspects are decided. It may then need to pass a vote to be brought before the legislative body as a whole. The proposed law is often then discussed in detail by the legislature, and many changes may be made in order for it to be made satisfactory to various political factions. If the bill is able to pass a vote by the entire legislature, it can then be enacted as a statutory law.
Legislation can have a number of different purposes. Laws can be passed to restrict activities, authorize actions, or regulate various things. Many legislatures also authorize the budgets of their respective governments, effectively providing funds to different programs, agencies, and other governmental operations. To this end, laws in many countries will also be created in order to levy taxes on certain activities and events.
Many countries have what is known as a separation of power, where the legislative, executive, and judicial branches are separate entities. This is often used so that each branch can monitor the operations of the others. The US Congress enacts laws, while the judicial branch is able to interpret them and also determine whether they are legal within the confines of the US Constitution. In other countries, there may be differing levels of separation between these branches, or the method for interaction between them may be defined differently.