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 ?
Few private bills ever make it on to the Statute Book, but with the backing of MPs yesterday, Mr Jones is expecting to receive Royal Assent in the coming weeks.
The news follows Friday's 260-vote victory in the Commons for Labour MP Mike Foster's private Bill to ban hunting with dogs.
City officials are also exploring the option of paying by credit card and at private bill payment stores in the future, Lhota said in an interview.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed questioned why the private bill was being presented by a minister.
If the government does not want to adopt the private bill it should either bring its own bill or adopt the private bill as its own with the permission of the mover.
They said MNA Mian Abdul Manan and MNA from Islamabad Asad Umar had presented a private bill of rent control act in the National Assembly, which was approved by the concerned Standing Committee and the ICT Administration, but it has not been passed into a law as yet.
Prior to adjournment, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon attended the Legislative Assembly to give Royal Assent to 19 government bills and one private bill.
Mian Abdul Mannan member National Assembly made efforts and processed law proposal as a private bill.
THE Bharatiya Janata Party's decision to ask senior leader Sushma Swaraj to move a private Bill seeking to tackle corruption in the private sector and non- governmental organisations is a significant one.
A private bill on domestic violence had been passed in the National Assembly in 2009, which required approval by the Pakistani Senate.
Opponents of the move, put forward in a private Bill by Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan, used parliamentary procedure to "talk out" the legislation, effectively ending its chances of becoming law.