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 ?
Peers in the House of Lords will discuss the private bill in February after the city council passed tests for correctly advertising the legislation and making it publicly available.
Durham North MP Kevan Jones overcame last minute opposition to push his private bill through the Commons, declaring it would make a real difference to millions of workers, particularly women.
Officers have backed moves to introduce a Private Bill in Parliament under a proposed crackdown on people selling trinkets, such as mobile phone covers, jewellery, balloons, socks and toys, on the street.
Private Bills seek to exempt an individual or organization from the application of the general law or cover some situation not provided for in legislation.
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 executive branch for decadesunder both Democratic and Republican administrationshas shielded individuals from deportation while private bills are pending.
On May 18, 2016, the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills released its report recommending that Private Bill 401, the Millar College of the Bible Act, proceed to second reading.
The private bills introduced in the House included the Pakistan Environmental Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Working Women (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2015 while another private bill - the Fair Representation of Women Bill, 2015 was not taken up by the House.
KARACHI -- Sindh Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed three private bills to set up two Altaf Hussain and one Benazir Bhutto Universities in three different cities of the province.
The HBAC meeting will be held on Monday at 3:00pm in the Speakers lounge while procedure of the debate, Presidential address, matters of legislation, private bills will be debated in length.
Private bills are promoted by organisations to obtain powers for themselves in excess of, or in conflict with, general law.
Private Bills - separate from the Private Members' Bills which saw Baroness Finlay last year introduce a Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill - are introduced by organisations outside Parliament to obtain powers in excess of, or in conflict with, the general law.