private Bill

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Related to Private act: Privacy Act

Private Bill

Legislation that benefits an individual or a locality. Also called special legislation or a private act.

Many state constitutions prohibit the enactment of private bills or acts when a general law could apply. The prohibition of private bills, now more commonly known as special laws, applies to legislation that affects local governments or private individuals. Despite this constitutional language, private bills remain a part of the U.S. legislative process.

The constitutional disfavor of private bills is based on several concerns. The enactment of special legislation undermines the idea that laws apply to all persons in a state. The perception of favoritism reduces the credibility of the legislative process. The reality of special legislation is that the legislature fails to establish responsible and uniform statewide regulation of local government units and creates preferential and prejudicial discrimination between communities. Private bills also use legislative time and energy in small amounts, leaving the legislature less able to deal with general legislative business. Nevertheless, special legislative treatment of special problems is sometimes warranted.

Legislatures can evade the constitutional provisions banning private bills by drafting laws that apply to the entire state, at least on their face. For example, a special bill for one local unit of government or person can be drawn so that it appears to apply to all units or persons meeting specific criteria. The criteria actually limit its applicability to the one community or person the sponsors intend to affect. Population is the most common "bogus" criterion since it is easy to use. Thus, a law that applies only to "a county with a population of more than 50,000 and between 350,000 and 400,000 acres" appears on its face to apply generally to all counties in the state that match the criteria. This type of legislative drafting hides special legislation and makes it appear to be general.

Courts will uphold special legislation if the classifications in the act are "open," meaning that other units of government or individuals will come under the law if at any time they meet the criteria in the law. In the example above, the population of a county given in the law was 50,000. If another county reaches that level of population and has the same amount of acreage, it will fall under the legislation, thus making the classification open. If the class is fixed by the facts as of some point in time, the class is closed, and is stripped of the presumption that it is an honest classification related to a legitimate legislative purpose. The class is held to be descriptive of the target community or person and makes the legislation an invalid private bill.

Legislatures can limit the number of private bills either by examining them more critically or adopting statewide legislation that gives local units adequate powers to solve issues themselves, eliminating the need for private bills.

private Bill

in the constitutional law of the UK, a Bill that affects a private interest specially and is therefore different from a PUBLIC BILL. They are initiated by petition of persons outside Parliament, like local authorities or, in the past, railway companies. The main feature of the special standing orders that govern its passage are that the bill is sent to a select committee that will hear objectors providing they have LOCUS STANDI. See HYBRID BILL.
References in periodicals archive ?
Voyeurism defined as whoever watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act
Inspired by Iceland campaign is a public private act - between the Icelandic government, City of Reykjavik, Icelandair, the Travel Industry Association and the Federation of Trade & Services.
Singh denied the charges but was found guilty of secretly "observing another person doing a private act for sexual gratification" after a trial at Birmingham Magistrates Court on July 20.
As this was beyond his private means, he set up the Birmingham Gas Company by private Act of Parliament.
Vraniskovski" has nothing to do with his planned official visit to Macedonia and is a private act in connection with the ongoing court proceedings against him in Macedonia.
The defendant, who admitted for the purpose of sexual gratification observing a person doing a private act, said he had gone to Llandudno from his home in Leicester to relax after his A-level exams.
In many cultures nose-picking is considered a private act akin to defecation, urination, flatulence and belching.
That was a private act arranged by their mother despite our advice.
Before 1844 people coming to these shores could become naturalised or acquire the rights of citizenship in two different ways, firstly through Denization, which was granted by the sovereign and gave the right to live in Britain and secondly, they could be naturalised through a private act of Parliament.
Were you blind to the fact that a troubled and unpopular Prime Minister's private act of compassion was hurled venomously back in his face and his blushes smeared across front pages for all the world to witness?
The private act requires both [notice to an agency and an employee's supervisor]; the private employee must give the employer the chance to correct the activity prior to reporting it to a relevant agency.