private Bill

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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 ?
The same is true of marriage, which is not merely a personal, private act.
This is finally an exorcise/exercise of words, a desperate/exuberant, private act of revisiting form.
A president who encourages an intern to perform fellatio on him in the Oval Office is not engaged in a merely private act.
Protester Kenneth Wilson, from nearby Coylton, wants a private Act of Parliament to make building on the common land illegal.
Since this is a private act, there is no accurate way of knowing the actual activity rate for anyone, including teen-agers.
The Private Act of Parliament mechanism will stay in place for companies needing tailored solutions in forming the special captives, which keep the assets of multiple participants in protected "cells" within the insurer.
In Bermuda, one may take an existing rent-a-captive facility and, through the use of a private act of the Bermuda parliament, achieve legal separation of accounts.
It is also self-evident that, since "no man is an island," any private act may be viewed as affecting the economic, existential, or medical well-being of others, and hence be deemed to pose a "public health problem"; and that if protecting people from themselves falls within the sphere of public health, then no private behavior is exempt from being categorized as a public health problem, subject to control by means of medical sanctions.
As a result, we tend to think of forgiveness as a merely private act between two individuals, the cancellation of a bad debt, the forgetting of some private grievance.
In the past, sexual abuse had been largely viewed by the [INS] and immigration courts as a private act, even when committed by soldiers or government officials," The New York Times reported.
Under English law, there is not a procedure for the automatic termination or dissolution of a company by operation of law without the intervention of some person or agency, except perhaps in the case of a company incorporated by private Act of Parliament, an extremely rare occurrence.
From 1482 until his death in 1519 he channeled his social impulses into the private act of writing, sharing with the anonymous reader his thoughts on anatomy and love, painting and dreams, engineering and the afterlife.