April 05, 2012

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting April 5, 2012

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The Spring sitting of the 4th session of the 61st General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature began on March 29, 2012. As of April 5, 6 Government Bills and 3 Private Members Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly.

Below is a summary of those Bills introduced between March 29 and April 5, 2012.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 1 Status of the Artist Act – Hon. David A. Wilson
This Bill calls for acknowledgment of the Artist as a profession, defining the term “Professional Artist” and providing artists with government support and giving artists the opportunity to participate in governmental initiatives through their professional associations. The intent and purpose of this Bill is stated as being to recognize the role that Artists play in building the Province’s identity and culture.
Status: Passed second reading on April 3, 2012, and referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

Bill No. 5 – Municipal Government Act (amended) – Hon. John MacDonell
This Bill seeks to amend the Act to allow municipalities to help finance solar panels and other energy-efficient equipment on private property; and to create by-laws for imposing charges that will recoup the cost of the program from participating citizens. Under the rules proposed, the property owner pays annual instalments to the municipality plus interest, and on default the entire amount financed becomes due and payable. The charges also operate as a first lien on the property.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 9 – Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act (amended) – Hon. Charlie Parker
This Bill seeks to amend the Act to correct an error and to update the definition of “Minister” in the Act, to mean the “Minister of Energy”. It also provides for regulations to be made that require information to be provided to permit the Minister to determine Crown Share Adjustment payments under the federal Implementation Act.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILLS

Bill No. 2 – Tax Review (2012-13) Act– Hon. Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill calls on the Minister to comprehensively review all of Nova Scotia’s provincial taxes and federal and provincial taxes in Canada prior to June 1 and file a report by Sept 29, 2012 to be tabled in the House of Assembly. This will include a study of tax initiatives over the last 10 years and their effect on the Province’s economy; as well as a cross-jurisdictional comparison of each Province’s tax system. The effects of the current tax system on both individuals and businesses will be reviewed.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 3 – Sales Tax Act (amended) –Harold (Junior) Theriault (Lib)
This Bill seeks to amend the Sales Tax Act to provide a Funeral Expenses Rebate for those who pay for a funeral, at the point-of-sale. A rebate application can also be made to the Minister where the purchaser was not credited at the point-of-sale. The funeral supplier will be reimbursed for the total rebates paid or credited under this new section, if they apply within 24 months of the service.
Status: Debate was adjourned on second reading.

Bill No. 4 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended)– Keith Bain (PC)
This Bill seeks to amend the definitions section of the Act to include and define the term “grandparents”. Further it provides for grandparent access, which must be considered in all access and custody orders; and the matters which the Court is to consider in making an order for grandparent access are set out. Under this Bill persons are prohibited from unreasonably inhibiting access to grandchildren. This Bill also requires that the court ensure parties are advised of the option to mediate.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 6 – Fair Treatment of Children Act –Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill, if passed will require that when a physician recommends a psychiatric assessment for a person under 18 years of age, the assessment take place within 30 days.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 7 – Concussion Awareness Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill calls for providing school-aged children in all organized athletic teams and minor sports organizations with education on the impact of a concussion and protective measures when players sustain a head injury. Emphasis is to be placed on the long term effects of such injuries.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 8 – Joseph Howe Day Act – Diana Whalen (Lib)
Under this Bill the third Monday in February is to be kept and observed in Nova Scotia as Joseph Howe Day. The Bill seeks to amend the definition of “holiday” in the Interpretation Act to include “Joseph Howe Day”; to include Joseph Howe Day in the list of “General Holidays” for which employers are required to provide a holiday with pay pursuant to section 37 of the Labour Standards Code; and to add Joseph Howe Day to the list of “uniform closing days” in the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act. The Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act would also be amended to include Joseph Howe Day as a “designated day”, on which pursuant to that act certain retailers can be fined $50,000 or the total sales, whichever is greater, for operating on such a day.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

2012 BUDGET

Nova Scotia’s Fiscal 2012-13 Budget –Hon. Graham Steele
The 2012-13 Budget includes $9.3 billion in revenues, $9.5 billion in total spending and a bottom line deficit of $211.2 million. The province plans to invest $610 million in total capital expenditures for 2012-13, in 4 categories: Highways ($281M), Buildings ($158M), Information Technology ($57.2M), and Vehicles, equipment, land and capital grants ($113.8M). An additional $72.6 million is tabled for upgrades to Irving Shipbuilding, forestry, fisheries and manufacturing. The budget includes a reduction in the HST from 15% to 13% by 2015. Other reductions include: the small business corporate income tax rate will decrease to 3.5%; and elimination of the Large Corporations Tax on Capital by July 1.

$56 million will be provided through various incentives under jobsHere programs. Healthcare facilities would expect $40.9 million in upgrades and $4.8 million for Collaborative Emergency Centres, with further funds going to other health care initiatives and programs supporting seniors.

No major changes to Personal income tax rates are to be found in the budget at this stage, however, the spouse and dependent amounts will increase to $8,481 to match the 2012 basic personal amount; and the disability amount will be increased to $7,341. Both the Equity Tax Credit and Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Tax Credits are extended to February, 2022.

STATUS UPDATES

Status Update on Government Bills
Bill No. 1 – Status of the Artist Act – Passed second reading, and was referred to Law Amendments Committee, on April 3, 2012.
Bill No. 5 - Municipal Government Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 9 – Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act (amended) – Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private Member’s Bills
Bill No. 2 – Tax Review (2012-13) Act – Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 3 – Sales Tax Act (amended) – Debate was adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 4 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 6 – Fair Treatment of Children Act– Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 7 – Concussion Awareness Act– Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 8 – Joseph Howe Day Act– Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private and Local Bills
None


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 (902) 491-4107 or coxandpalmer.com


 


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.