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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
The police added Sections 354 ( assault or criminal force on woman), 354 A ( making sexually coloured remarks), 354 ( assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe) and 354 C ( Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act) of IPC after two of the complainants presented themselves before a magistrate on Friday and their statements were recorded under Section 164 of CrPC.
there had to be some way to show the world that he was a human being, an equal human being.' The private act becomes a public gesture of protest and affirmation; as the two boys prepare for and carry out their record-breaking kiss, the marathon becomes a vehicle for the author to explore the experience of being gay in contemporary America.
"This was a private act that regrettably occurred in a public place.
What we don't know are the actual figures of self injury because self injury is generally a private act. The trend however, is a frightening one,” Managing Director of Step Up!
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.
Melamed also stated that gender segregation is appropriate only during when performing "public acts," and said that riding the bus is considered a "private act."
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.
* "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."
The voyeurism charges against Iheanacho allege he intended to get 'sexual gratification' by watching the recorded film of the woman - who is in her 40s but cannot be identified for legal reasons - 'doing a private act'.
This is finally an exorcise/exercise of words, a desperate/exuberant, private act of revisiting form.
Protester Kenneth Wilson, from nearby Coylton, wants a private Act of Parliament to make building on the common land illegal.