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 Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills considered 12 private bills during this period.
The house, like two other private bills, passed this bill unanimously.
However, Pringle has been buoyed by news that the London Councils plan to present a private Bill to the Commons next week, calling for an outright ban or levy on carrier bags.
Two private bills, which would allow Liverpool City Council and London borough councils to ban smoking in places of work, including all bars and restaurants, have been given a second reading by peers.
When Dr Reid appears before the select committee on February 23, the Foundation says it hopes the committee will succeed in persuading him to fall into line with the provisions in the private bills being brought by Liverpool and London.
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.
Malcolm Evans, head of regulatory services at Cardiff council, said that in the past two other authorities - Westminster and Newcastle - had obtained Private Bills to stop the practices, which come under The Pedlar's Acts of 1871 and 1881.
Details of the planned pounds 473 million network were included in two private Bills published in the Scottish parliament that will give Edinburgh City Council powers to acquire land.
There are Government Bills (starting at the number 1), Private Members Public Bills (starting at number 201) and Private Bills (starting at Pr 1).
Private Bills are different from Private Members' Bills.
In the 49th Congress (1885-1887), 40 percent of the bills passed by the House and 55 percent of those passed by the Senate were private bills adding to the pension rolls constituents who had been denied benefits.
The House rejected two private bills including the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2015 (Amendment of Article 25-A) whereas the Income Tax (Amendment) Ordinance 2015 was also presented in the House.