April 08, 2011

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting April 8

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The spring sitting of the 3rd session of the 61st General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature began on March 31, 2011. As of April 8, 2011, 4 Government Bills, and 12 Private Members Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly. No Private and Local Bills have been introduced.

Below is a summary of those Bills introduced between March 31, 2011 and April 8, 2011.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 1 – Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Hon. Bill Estabrooks M.B.
This Bill amends the Motor Vehicle Act to increase the penalties for persons convicted of impaired driving. It creates an additional 12 month suspension of a driver’s license when a person is convicted of impaired driving while a child under the age of 16 is in the vehicle. It also requires first time offenders to install alcohol-sensing ignition interlocks in their vehicles. Status: Passed 2nd reading, and was referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

Bill No. 7 – Justice Administration Amendment (2011) Act – Hon. Ross Landry
This Bill repeals the Indigent Debtors Act, the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act and the Estreats Act, which are no longer being used in the current practice of law.The Bill also amends the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act by: deleting the word 'arbitral' to clarify the jurisdiction of interest arbitration boards to arbitrate labour relations issues; clarify that it is the terms and conditions of employment in dispute that may be referred to an arbitration board; and replace 'arbitral award' with 'award of an arbitration board'.
The Bill will also remove the words arbitral and arbitrable, with regard to terms of employment, from the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, the Corrections Act and the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act. This mirrors similar changes made through the Labour Board Act last fall.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 13 – Pharmacy Act – Hon. Maureen MacDonald
This Bill continues to provide that the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists is the governing body for the profession of pharmacy in Nova Scotia and sets out the scope of the College's authority over their profession. Regulations under this Act are expected to see pharmacists gain expanded powers to prescribe certain medications and to use their professional discretion to prescribe in certain circumstances.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 15 – Electricity Act (amended) – Hon. Charlie Parker
This Bill amends the Electricity Act to classify hydroelectricity as renewable electricity, for the purpose of meeting renewable electricity targets, whether generated in or imported into Nova Scotia. In addition, the Bill replaces the expression “renewable energy” with “renewable electricity” for consistency of language.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.


PRIVATE MEMBERS BILLS

Bill No. 2 – Hydraulic Fracturing Act – Andrew Younger (LIB)
This Bill addresses hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. It defines “hydraulic fracturing” as “an operation in which a specially blended liquid is pumped down a well and into a formation under pressure high enough to cause the formation to crack open and form passages through which oil, gas or water can flow into the well bore.” The Bill requires the Minister of Energy to hold public consultations respecting hydraulic fracturing. Following the consultations, the Minister is to recommend legislative and regulatory measures that address whether hydraulic fracturing should be permitted in Nova Scotia. The Bill prohibits anyone from engaging in hydraulic fracturing without a permit . No permits will be issued until the enactment of legislative and regulatory measures allowing hydraulic fracturing to take place.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 3 – Modernizing Government Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill amends the Elections Act and the House of Assembly Act in several respects. It requires the Governor in Council to appoint a person with a disability to the Election Commission and requires all polling stations in a provincial election to be accessible. It provides for fixed provincial election dates on the first Tuesday in October every four years. Provincial by-elections must be called within 3 months of a vacancy and held within 6 months of a vacancy. The Bill permits a person to vote in a provincial election at any polling station in Nova Scotia on ordinary polling day. It also limits third-party advertising during a provincial election. It requires third parties that incur more than five hundred dollars in election advertising expenses to register with the Chief Electoral Officer and prohibits third parties from expending more than 1.33% of the limit for registered political parties with candidates in every electoral district. The Bill requires the House of Assembly to debate petitions presented to it with at least 10,000 signatures if the subject-matter of the petition is within provincial jurisdiction. It provides that the panel reviewing MLAs indemnities, allowances and salaries must to be independent. It also prohibits former MLAs from being a lobbyist for three years following ceasing to be an MLA.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 4 – Tax Review (2011-12) 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 on or before June 1, 2011. The review must be completed by September 29, 2011. The Bill requires the Minister to table a report in the House of Assembly, or with the Chief Clerk if the House is not sitting.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 5 – Balanced Budget Act – Allan MacMaster (PC)
This Bill amends the Finance Act to cap spending for a fiscal year at an amount equal to the expenditures for the previous fiscal year, with allowances for an excess amount to account for the estimated percentage increase in the population of the Province and the increase in inflation for that year as compared with the preceding fiscal year. Exceptions can be made should Nova Scotia fall victim to a natural disaster, or if the Province experiences negative growth in the two fiscal quarters immediately preceding the expenditures. The Bill forbids the Minister from tabling Estimates that project a deficit. This Bill also requires that the Minister requests that the Government of Canada take the necessary action to reduce from 10% to 8% the tax payable in the Province under subsections 165(1) and (2) of Excise Tax Act (Canada).
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 6 – Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (LIB)
This Bill amends the Finance Act to require the Minister to table an approved health services business plan for each district authority at the same time that the Estimates for a fiscal year are tabled in the House of Assembly.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 8 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Hon. Karen Casey (LIB)
This Bill amends the Maintenance and Custody Act to define “grandparent” as “the parent of a parent of a child”. It also provides for grandparent access orders, sets out the matters the court must consider in making a grandparent access order and provides that a person who has custody of a child must not unreasonably place obstacles to personal contact between the child and the child’s grandparents.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 9 Gaelic College Foundation Act (amended)– Keith Bain (PC)
This Bill amends the Gaelic College Foundation Act to change the composition of the Board of Governors of the Gaelic College Foundation.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 10 – Electricity Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (LIB)
This Bill permits renewable energy providers to sell directly to customers.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 11 – Diabetic Persons Support Act – Diana Whalen (LIB)
This Bill provides for the funding of insulin pumps under the M.S.I. Plan.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 12- Income Tax Act – Leo Glavine (LIB)
This Bill 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 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 14 – Agriculture and Marketing Act - Leo Glavine (LIB)
This Bill amends the Agriculture and Marketing Act to require the advisory committee established by that Act to advise the Minister on the development of a policy respecting: food purchases by Government entities; progressive targets for returns to Nova Scotia farmers over 9 years; and a healthy-snack program in Nova Scotia classrooms. The policy is to be finalized by July 15, 2011.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 16 – Multiple Sclerosis Patient Support Act – Diana Whalen (LIB)
This Bill provides for the establishment of an Advisory Panel to advise the Health Research Foundation on matters relating to liberation therapy. Liberation therapy is a therapy pioneered for the treatment of chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency in persons with multiple sclerosis. Specifically, the Advisory Panel will advise on the call for and selection of research proposals. In addition, clinical trials are to begin by October 30, 2011 and the Foundation will fund such trials.
Status: Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

STATUS UPDATES

Status Update on Government Bills
- Bill No. 1 – Motor Vehicle Act (amended) - Passed 2nd reading, and was referred to the Law Amendments Committee
- Bill No. 7 – Justice Administration Amendment (2011) Act - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 13 – Pharmacy Act - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 15 – Electricity Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private and Local Bills
- Bill No. 2 – Hydraulic Fracturing Act - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 3 – Modernizing Government Act - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 4 – Tax Review (2011-12) Act - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 5 – Balanced Budget Act - Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 6 – Finance Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 8 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 9 Gaelic College Foundation Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 10 – Electricity Act (amended) – 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- Income Tax Act – Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 14 – Agriculture and Marketing Act – Passed 1st reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
- Bill No. 16 – Multiple Sclerosis Patient Support Act – 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 jforster@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.