April 01, 2010

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting, April 1, 2010

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The 2nd Session of the 61st General Assembly of the Nova Scotia legislature began on Thursday March 25th, 2010 with a speech from the throne.  As of March 31, 2010, 4 Government Bills, and 10 Private Members Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly. 

Below is a summary of those bills introduced between March 25th, 2010 and March 31st, 2010 and provides the status of legislation introduced since the beginning of the 2nd Session of the 61st General Assembly as of March 31st, 2010.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 1 – House of Assembly Management Commission Act
This Bill establishes a Commission and Audit Committee responsible for the financial stewardship of all public money that may be voted by the House of Assembly for its use and the use of its members, staff and offices. The Bill permits the Chair of the Commission to make rulings on the permissibility of expense claims. The Commission is able to issue directives and make decisions on cases or appeals brought before it. The Bill requires the Chief Clerk of the House of Assembly to develop training programs to assist members’ understanding of what is necessary to comply with the Commission’s regulations and directives. The Audit Committee shall assist the Commission in the performance of its duties. The Bill also requires that the Auditor General conduct an annual audit and to report any irregularities. Status: Passed first reading; debate was adjourned on second reading.

Bill No. 7 – Pharmacy Act (amended)
This Bill authorizes the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists to establish the Registration Appeals Committee to hear appeals of certain decisions of the Registrar of the College and adds regulation-making power to the Governor in Council respecting drug therapy. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 10 – Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act (amended)
This Bill removes the application of the Act to buildings with fewer than 10 rental units. It also gives additional by-law making powers to council and regulatory making powers to the Governor in Council. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 13 – Motor Vehicle Act (amended)
This Bill enables a person requiring an alcohol ignition interlock device in another Canadian jurisdiction to obtain a Nova Scotia driver's licence with the same restriction upon becoming a resident of Nova Scotia. This Bill also enables a person with a revoked driver’s license in Nova Scotia to have it reinstated for the purposes of applying for a driver’s license in another jurisdiction if that person’s application in the new jurisdiction includes participation in an alcohol ignition interlock program. Several house keeping items. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILLS

Bill No. 2 – Health Act (amended) – Hon. Stephen McNeil (LIB)
This Bill authorizes 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. 3 – Provincial Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (LIB)
This Bill amends the Provincial Finance Act to require the Minister of Finance to table approved business plans for the district health authorities with the estimates for a fiscal year. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 4 – Electricity Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (LIB)
This Bill permits renewable energy providers to sell directly to customers. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 5 – Provincial Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (LIB)
This Bill requires the Minister of Finance to table a report setting out all departmental write-offs of more than one thousand dollars with the Public Accounts for a fiscal year. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 6 – Industrial Expansion Fund Transfer Act – Hon. Stephen McNeil (LIB)
This Bill requires the Minister of Finance to transfer all funds in the Industrial Expansion Fund to the Nova Scotia Business Fund and to assign responsibility of its administration to Nova Scotia Business Incorporated. Status: Passed first reading; debate was adjourned on second reading.
 
Bill No. 8 – Multi-Year Funding Act – Manning MacDonald, C.D.  (LIB)
This Bill establishes a working group to develop a multi-year funding framework for designated not-for-profit organizations. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 9 - Advisory Council on Mental Health Act – Diana Whalen (LIB)
This Bill establishes the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on Mental Health which is responsible for consulting with stakeholders, advise the Minister and implement policies, programs and priorities aimed at addressing the mental-health needs of all Nova Scotians. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 11 - Diabetic Persons Support Act – Diana Whalen (LIB)
This Bill amends the Health Services and Insurance Act by providing 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. 12 - Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act – Kelly Regan (LIB)
This Bill amends the Education Act to require the Minister of Education to implement a policy addressing the reporting, monitoring and treatment of students with life threatening illnesses. The Bill also limits the liability for actions done in accordance with the Act absent gross negligence. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 14 – Sales Tax Act (amended) – Allan McMaster (PC)
This Bill prohibits the Province from proposing or agreeing to an increase in the Provincial portion of the federally enacted harmonized sales tax. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

STATUS UPDATE ON GOVERNMENT BILLS

  • Bill No. 1 House of Assembly Management Commission Act - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading.
  • Bill No.7 Pharmacy Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 10 Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 13 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House

STATUS UPDATE ON PRIVATE MEMBER BILLS

  • Bill No. 2 Health Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 3 Provincial Finance Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 4 Electricity Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 5 Provincial Finance Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No 6 Industrial Expansion Fund Transfer Act - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 8 Multi-Year Funding Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 9 Advisory Council on Mental Health Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 11 Diabetic Persons Support Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 12 Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 14 Sales Tax Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House

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.

If you have any questions regarding the legislation summarized above or would like to receive a copy of any bill, please contact Jennifer Forster at coxandpalmer.com or by phone at (902) 491-4107.


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.