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 ?
While only one private bill (The Sikh Marriage Act) sailed through the assembly in the last five years, the house adopted 175 government bills in the same period.
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.
Parliamentary Counsel are responsible for drafting Private Members Public Bills and Private Bills.
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.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has accused Majority leader Aden Duale of frustrating most of his private bills by ensuring they do not get to the floor of the House.
Among the 191 bills, 189 were introduced by the government while two bills were introduced as Private Member Bills and both the private bills were introduced during the last parliamentary year.
Installation of signboards, load-shedding, benefits for journalists and private bills
A meeting would be held on April 11 or 12 with the three MNAs to deliberate incorporating the private bills with the official Bill, National Commission for Interfaith Harmony, Bill, 2015.
The executive branch for decadesunder both Democratic and Republican administrationshas shielded individuals from deportation while private bills are pending.
During the spring sitting, a total of 36 bills were introduced, of which 33 were Government bills and three were private bills. Most bills passed and received Royal Assent; four have not progressed beyond first reading.