March 28, 2013

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting March 28, 2013

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The Spring sitting of the 5th session of the 61st General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature began on March 26, 2013. As of March 28, 1 Government Bill, 29 Private Members Bills and 0 Private and Local Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly.

Below is a summary of those Bills introduced between March 26 and March 28, 2013.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 3 – Support for Parents of Critically Ill or Abducted Children Act – Hon. Frank Corbett
This Bill amends the Labour Standards Code to add leave provisions for parents and guardians in Nova Scotia who are facing a critical illness of their child, or the death or disappearance of their child due to a criminal act. The Bill allows an employee, who is a parent (including a guardian/caregiver or spouse/common law partner of a parent) of a critically ill child, to take an unpaid leave of absence from their employment for a period of up to thirty-seven weeks, in order to care for the child. The Bill allows an employee, who is a parent of a child who was killed as a result of a criminal act, to take an unpaid leave of absence for a period of up to one hundred and four weeks. The Bill allows an employee, who is a parent of a child who has disappeared as a result of a criminal act, to take an unpaid leave of absence for a period of up to fifty-two weeks.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

PRIVATE MEMBER'S BILLS

Bill No. 1 – Accountability in Economic Development Assistance Act– Hon. Stephen McNeil (Lib)

This Bill provides for a level of accountability in the provision of economic development assistance to businesses (tax credits, tax exemptions or the like), such assistance being given to businesses as an incentive to relocate to, expand or continue in Nova Scotia. The Bill requires businesses who have received such incentives from a government unit to deliver a copy and summary of any incentive agreement to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, and to provide the Minister with quarterly updates as to the progress of the business in meeting any targets/timelines outlined in the agreement. In addition, the Bill requires the Minister to publish any such incentive agreements on a public website, and requires the business to give a summary and copy of the agreement to any person who requests it.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 2 – Reliability in the Delivery of Electricity Act– Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister of Energy to set performance standards for electricity delivery reliability, restoration, disruption preparedness and communications to the public in the event of electricity service disruption. Nova Scotia Power would be required to meet and report on the progress of these standards. Nova Scotia Power would be required to annually submit, for approval, plans (a service reliability plan and a disruption communications plan) outlining steps it will implement to meet these standards. There are penalties for inadequate performance of Nova Scotia Power due to its failure to implement these plans. These penalties are ordered after an investigation and hearing before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. NS Power must also submit a document outlining strategies it will implement to avoid flooding in flood prone areas. Finally, the Bill establishes a Fund (Reliable Electricity Service Civil Penalty Fund) which the penalties imposed are to be paid into. The Fund would be used for various improvements related to electricity delivery and for compensation to ratepayers for unreliable electricity service.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 4 – Balanced Budget Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill amends the Finance Act in a couple ways. First, it limits the year-over-year percentage increase in government spending to an amount equal to the estimated percentage increase in the population of Nova Scotia and the rate of inflation as measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index. Second, it prohibits the Minister of Finance from tabling a budget that is not balanced. This Bill also requires the Minister to request that the Government of Canada reduce the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax to 8 per cent (reducing the overall HST from 15 per cent to 13 per cent).
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 5 – Elections Act (amended) – Hon. Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill amends the Elections Act to provide for a fixed date for general elections. That date would normally be the second Tuesday in October every fourth year, but can be changed if the Chief Electoral Officer decides that that Tuesday is not suitable.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 6 – Next Generation Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill amends the Finance Act by requiring the Minister of Finance to submit an intergenerational report to the House of Assembly every five years. The report would include an assessment of the long-term sustainability of current government policies over the fourty year period following the report.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 7 – Liquor Control Act (amended) – Diana Whalen (Lib)
This Bill amends the Liquor Control Act by repealing the express authority of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation to apply for an injunction against an anticipated or continuing violation of the Liquor Control Act.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 8 - Food Bank Donation Tax Credit for Farmers Act – Leo Glavine (Lib)
This Bill amends the Income Tax Act and provides a non-refundable tax credit of 25% of the wholesale value of agricultural products produced by Nova Scotia farmers and donated to Nova Scotia food banks.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 9 - Review to Invest in Student Achievement Act – Hon. Karen Casey (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister of Education to review and report on the funding and delivery of public education in Nova Scotia, including reviewing funding mechanisms of public schools in Nova Scotia and in the other Provinces and a performance review of the Department of Education.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 10 – Public Utilities Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill exempts public utilities that produce or provide thermal or geothermal energy to ten or fewer customers from regulatory oversight by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. The purpose of this Bill is to promote the development of district and neighborhood geothermal heating and cooking systems.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 11 – Affordable Higher Education Act – Zach Churchill (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education to undertake a review of ancillary fees charged by post-secondary institutions to students and submit a report on the review to the House of Assembly.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 12 - Public Service Act (amended) – Hon Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill amends the Public Service Act to establish the Office of Fire and Emergency Services in the public service.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 13 – Liquor Control Act (amended) – Diana Whalen (Lib)
This Bill amends the Liquor Control Act to permit the operation of a business to assist or participate in the making of beer, wine or cider by another person, sometimes referred to as a U-brew or U-vint business.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 14 - Diabetic Persons Support Act – Leo Glavine (Lib)
This Bill amends the Health Services and Insurance Act to provide for the funding of insulin pumps under the M.S.I. Plan.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 15 – Education Act (amended) – Hon. Karen Casey
This Bill amends the Education Act to restrict class sizes for grades primary to two to 20 students, and for grade three to 25 students. It allows a class in grades primary to two to exceed 20 students, but not 25 students, if the Minister so orders and if an additional non-teaching adult support person is assigned to that class. It also requires that the Minister ensure that each school board receive sufficient funding so that the class size restrictions do not impair the delivery of the public school program.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 16 - Green Energy Promotion Act – Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister of Energy to undertake a review of Manitoba's Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit (under Manitoba's Income Tax Act) and consider implementing a similar credit in Nova Scotia, as well as other tax credits for renewable energy sources. A report with the findings is to be made to the House of Assembly.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 17 - Blueprint for the Future of Public Education in Nova Scotia Act - Hon Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister of Education to undertake a comprehensive review of all aspects of the public schools programs, including goals and policies of public school education, curriculums in each province, and methodologies and assessment strategies in each province. A report must be filed to the House of Assembly.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 18 - Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act – Hon Karen Casey (Lib)
This Bill amends the Education Act and requires the Minister of Education to establish and monitor the implementation of a life-threatening illness policy in schools. Such a policy must include such things as strategies to reduce the risk of emergencies related to life-threatening illnesses, a plan for the dissemination of information about life-threatening illness, training for staff in dealing with life threatening illnesses, the development of individual plans for students suffering with life-threatening illness and the maintaining of a file on each such student, containing the care each requires.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 19 - Increasing Immigration to Nova Scotia Act - Diana Whalen (Lib)
This Bill requires the Immigration Advisory Council to recommend criteria for evaluating immigration applicants under an Entrepreneur Stream to be established under the Nova Scotia Nominee Program, which was established pursuant to the Canada-Nova Scotia Co-operation on Immigration Agreement.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 20 – Electricity Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill amends the Electricity Act to permit renewable-energy providers to sell directly to customers.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 21 - Supporting All Students' Success in the Classroom Act – Hon Stephen McNeil (Lib)
Requires each school to review its resources for special needs students, identify deficiencies and submit a report on the findings. The reports shall be compiled by school boards and submitted to the Minister of Education. The Minister shall increase or decrease the special needs funding to those schools according to the deficiencies or surpluses identified by the reports.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 22 - Joseph Howe Day Act – Diana Whalen (Lib)
This Bill establishes Joseph Howe Day as a new holiday, held on the third Monday of February every year.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 23 - Sound Recording Tax Credit Act – Harold (Junior) Theriault (Lib)
This Bill amends the Income Tax Act to provide a Nova Scotia sound recording tax credit available to eligible sound recording companies for certain qualifying expenditures on eligible sound recordings by emerging Canadian artists or groups.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 24 - Multi-year Funding Act – Kelly Regan (Lib)
This Bill establishes a five member working group to develop a multi-year funding framework for designated non-profit organizations funded by the Province. The working group will determine funding qualifications, the application process, services agreement templates, and the approval process for multi-year funding.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 25 – Health Act (amended) - Hon Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill amends the Health Act to authorize regulations to designate 20 positions at Dalhousie University medical school for students who enter into a contract for tuition support in exchange for serving for five years in an under-serviced area of Nova Scotia.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 26 – Sales Tax Act (amended) – Harold (Junior) Theriault (Lib)
This Bill amends the Sales Tax Act to provide a rebate of the provincially designated portion of the Goods and Services Tax in respect of a funeral purchase.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 27 – Day Care Act (amended) - Kelly Regan (Lib)
This Bill amends the Day Care Act to require the Minister of Community Services to undertake a review of day-care quality and access throughout the Province. The review is to be completed by November 15, 2013.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 28 - Tax Review (2013-14) Act - Hon Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister to undertake a comprehensive review of all provincial taxes and of federal and provincial taxes in Canada, which would include a review of provincial tax initiatives in the past ten years and their effect on revenue generations and private sector economic activity within the province.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 29 - Housing Development Corporation Act (amended) - Kelly Regan (Lib)
This Bill amends the Housing Development Corporations Act to establish a Housing Development Corporation Board to manage the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation and perform the other functions assigned to it by the Act, other enactments and the Governor in Council, subject to the authority of the Minister set out in the Act.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 30 - Housing Development Corporation Act (amended) - Kelly Regan (Lib)
This Bill amends the Housing Development Corporations Act to provide that all funding received by the Province from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation must be used for the purpose of housing, defined as residential accommodation and facilities, common areas and services used directly with residential accommodation.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

STATUS UPDATES

Status Update on Government Bills

Bill No. 3 – Support for Parents of Critically Ill or Abducted Children Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private Member’s Bills

Bill No. 1 – Accountability in Economic Development Assistance Act - Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 2 – Reliability in the Delivery of Electricity Act - Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 4 – Balanced Budget Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 5 – Elections Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 6 – Next Generation Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 7 – Liquor Control Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 8 – Food Bank Donation Tax Credit for Farmers Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 9 – Review to Invest in Student Achievement Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 10 – Public Utilities Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 11 – Affordable Higher Education Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 12 – Public Service Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 13 – Liquor Control Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 14 – Diabetic Persons Support Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 15 – Education Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 16 – Green Energy Promotion Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 17 – Blueprint for the Future of Public Education in Nova Scotia Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 18 – Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 19 – Increasing Immigration to Nova Scotia Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 20 – Electricity Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 21 – Supporting All Students' Success in the Classroom Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 22 – Joseph Howe Day Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 23 – Sound Recording Tax Credit Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 24 – Multi-year Funding Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 25 – Health Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 26 – Sales Tax Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 27 – Day Care Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 28 – Tax Review (2013-14) Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 29 – Housing Development Corporation Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 30 – Housing Development Corporation Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private and Local Bills

N/A

THE PROGRESS OF BILLS IN THE NOVA SCOTIA LEGISLATURE 

The legislative process begins when a Bill is presented by a Member of the House of Assembly and is given First Reading by the House, without debate.

A Bill is given Second Reading after being debated in principle in the House.

Following Second Reading, Bills are referred to one of the legislative committees – the Law Amendments Committee or Private and Local Bills Committee – for detailed discussion in meetings outside the House. Members of the public can attend the meetings of these Committees and make presentations respecting any Bill. Amendments are frequently considered and may be adopted and included in the Bill when it is reported back to the House.

Bills reported back from the legislative committees are debated, clause by clause, by the members of the House acting as the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. The Bill is then reported back to the House.

The Bill receives Third Reading and the final approval of the House. There may be some debate at this stage but usually the Bill is voted on with no discussion.

The Bill receives Royal Assent when the Lieutenant Governor signs the final version. The Bill is then referred to as an Act, and is assigned a chapter number in the Statutes of Nova Scotia.

Commencement is the day on which the Act takes effect. Ordinarily, an Act takes effect when it is given Royal Assent. Sometimes, however, it provides that it will come into effect only when is it proclaimed to take effect by Order in Counsel to be made by the Cabinet.

Government Bills are introduced by the Minister of the department responsible for the legislation. Private Members Bills are generally introduced by a member of the opposition parties. Government Bills have a higher likelihood of becoming law since the largest party in the Legislative Assembly supports the initiative. Except in a minority government, Private Members Bills are unlikely to be brought forward for substantive debate or become law.

If you wish to be informed when a specific piece of legislation is scheduled to be heard by a legislative committee, please contact us and we will make arrangements for you to be so informed.


Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.