April 30, 2012

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting - April 27, 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 27, 2012, 21 Government Bills and 48 Private Members Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly.

Below is a summary of those Bills introduced between April 23 and April 27, 2012.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 37 – Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act – Hon. Ross Landry (NDP)
This Bill clarifies certain provisions and definitions in the Act. For example, the term “ordinarily resides” is changed to “habitually resides”. The Bill reduces to 12 months the time allowed to provide further documents requested by a court considering a support or variation application. Where Nova Scotia law supports entitlement, it will prevail over the laws of another jurisdiction. The court will also be authorized to vary orders of another jurisdiction, in certain circumstances.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 39 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Hon. Ross Landry (NDP)
This Bill addresses and defines “family violence, abuse or intimidation”; modifies the definition of “dependent child” to match the Divorce Act; requires the court to follow the maximum-contact principle where contact is in the best interests of the child and allows the Province to enter an agreement with the federal government for the recalculation of support orders under the Divorce Act.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 41 – Grandparents’ Rights Affirmation Act – Hon. Ross Landry (NDP)
This Bill will specifically allow grandparents or other members of a child’s family (other than a parent or guardian) to make an application for custody or access with leave of the court.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 52 – Conservation Easements Act (amended) – Hon. Charlie Parker (NDP)
This Bill brings the Act in line with the new proposed Community Easements Act to avoid overlap and provide continuity. It clarifies that easements under this Act are primarily dedicated for the protection of biodiversity and natural processes. Interests in land will not be affected by newly created Conservation Easements unless the interest holder is a party to the easement or consents to it.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 55 – Community Easements Act– Hon. Charlie Parker (NDP)
This Bill provides for Community Easements to preserve, conserve, enhance, or restore land. It aims to provide mechanisms which would enable community participation in the land purchase process and give a wider range of individuals and groups an opportunity to contribute to the process.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 59 – Fish Harvesters Registration and Certification Act –Hon. Sterling Belliveau (NDP)
The purpose of the Act is to register and certify fish harvesters based on their knowledge, skills and experience; to fund and coordinate training opportunities to improve fish harvesters’ safety and knowledge; and to promote economic viability and sustainability of the industry. Under the Act fish harvesters will be organized into fleet sectors on the basis of common location, type of equipment used or species they are licensed to fish. A Board of at least 8 directors elected by fish harvesters and various industry organizations will represent various areas and fleet sectors in administering the Act.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 61 – Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act (amended) – Hon. Sterling Belliveau (NDP)
This Bill revises the definition of “fish products” to include processed fish and fish by-products. Persons not exempt under the Act will have to comply with the terms of a licence to buy or process fish products when they are in possession of or marketing fish products. The Bill also further clarifies the circumstances outlined in s77 of when a licence is required to deal with fish products.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 65 – Consumer Protection Act (amended)– Hon. John MacDonell (NDP)
This Bill adds provisions governing cell phone contracts and requires various types of disclosure to be made by cell phone service providers. It would limit cell phone contract cancellation penalties to $50. The Bill also increases penalty amounts for contraventions under the Act to $25,000 for an individual (from $2,000) and $300,000 for a corporation (from $25,000).
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 69 – Appropriations Act, 2012 – Hon. Graham Steele (NDP)
Effective April 1, 2012, this Act grants certain sums for defraying Departmental charges and expenses for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. The amounts for each Department are specified in the Act. The Minister of Finance is authorized by this Act to borrow $1,250,000,000, for the Public Service, in accordance with the Finance Act for a term of up to 1 year.
Status: Passed third reading on April 27, 2012 and is awaiting Royal Assent.

PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILLS

Bill No. 38 – Finance Act (amended)– Diana Whalen (Lib)
This Bill requires the Minister to table an approved health services business plan for each district health authority in the Province, at the same time the Minister tables the estimates for a fiscal year in the House of Assembly.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 40 – Labour Standards Code (amended) –Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill will make it illegal to require access to a person’s social networking internet account (as a condition of employment); or to discriminate against persons refusing to give such access. Furthermore a complaint can be made to the Director of Labour Standards by persons who have been discriminated against for refusing to provide an employer with such access.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 42 – Rural Nova Scotia Physicians Act – Hon. Stephen McNeil (Lib)
The purpose of this Bill is to ensure a supply of physicians in rural parts of Nova Scotia by establishing a rural integrated clerkship program with Dalhousie Medical School. Beginning in 2013-14 students in their third year can elect to complete a curriculum placement in a rural community for 36 weeks.
Status: Debate adjourned on second reading.

Bill No. 43 – Newly Trained Nova Scotia Doctors Act – Hon. Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill is designed to accommodate doctors newly trained outside the province who are originally from Nova Scotia, by adding 10 additional residency positions in the Province, as needed.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 44 – Health Act (amended) – Hon. Stephen McNeil (Lib)
This Bill authorizes regulations to be created which will designate 20 positions at Dalhousie Medical School for which tuition support is provided to students who agree to a 5 year contract in areas of Nova Scotia that are identified as insufficiently serviced by physicians.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 45 – Ratepayer Protection Act – Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill calls for a biannual value-for-money audit of maintenance, operations and general expenses of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated beginning in fiscal year 2013-2014. Among other things the audit would examine governance, efficiency, effectiveness of NSPI or any of its activities or programs; compliance with applicable laws; and stewardship over rates revenues. Audit reports would be tabled in the House and include a statement of the financial position of NSPI and five year projections of rates. Compensation, including executive bonuses but excluding regular executive salaries, would not be payable from rate revenues, but would have to come from funds otherwise payable to NSPI shareholders. The Bill also calls for public input into rate increases and settlements.
Status: Debate adjourned on second reading.

Bill No. 46 – Electricity Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Lib)
This Bill amends the Act to allow renewable energy producers to sell electricity to customers directly and provides authority for regulations to be made with respect to such sales.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 47 – Modernizing Government Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
With respect to provincial elections, this Bill calls for fixed election dates; an updated report of the Province's finances before each general election; voting access at any polling station on polling day; the appointment of a person with a disability to the Election Commission; provincial by-elections to be held within 6 months of a vacancy. With respect to MLAs, it requires an independent panel for reviewing MLA allowances and salaries; and prohibits former MLAs from becoming lobbyists for three years after they cease to be an MLA. The Bill also requires the House to debate petitions with at least 10,000 signatures if the subject-matter is within provincial jurisdiction.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 48 – Balanced Budget Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill requires yearly increases in government spending to be proportionate to the Province’s increase in population and inflation rates as measured by the Consumer Price Index. It prohibits the Minister from tabling a budget which projects a deficit for the budget year and requires the Minister to ask the Federal government to decrease the Provincial portion of the HST to 8%.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 49 – Income Tax Act (amended) – Harold (Junior) Theriault (Lib)
This Bill amends the Act to create a senior independent living tax credit of up to $500 for persons aged 60 or older for costs associated with installation and maintenance of life or medical alert systems. It also authorizes regulations applying the tax credit retroactively.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 50 – Next Generation Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill amends the Finance Act to require the Minister to prepare an “intergenerational report” every 5 years, assessing long-term sustainability in the province over 40 years taking demographic changes into account.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 51 – Red Tape Reduction Act – Hon. Chris A. d’Entremont (PC)
This Bill calls for the appointment of a Minister who will work with various departments to reduce regulatory burdens in the Province. It requires departments to review their regulations every 5 years, eliminate redundant ones and report to the appointed Minister.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 53 – Debt Settlement Protection Act –Kelly Regan (Lib)
This Act provides for the licensing of debt settlement agents and agencies and outlines certain rules, prohibitions and standards for providing debt settlement services. The Bill includes a prohibition against the use of debt settlement service providers who are not licensed under the Act. The Act would not apply to lawyers or non-profit debt counselling organizations. In the case of debt settlement agencies a violation of the Act could incur fines of up to $10,000.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 54 – Power Rate Reduction Review Act - Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill seeks to establish an independent Committee composed of members of the Small and Medium Business Communities, Seniors Advisory Council, Chambers of Commerce (representing manufacturers), Coalition to End Poverty and Ecology Action Centre. The Committee will be tasked to prepare an inventory of Provincial statutes, orders and decisions, which, in whole or in part, are likely to increase electricity costs by more than fifty thousand dollars annually. The identified statutes, etc, shall be tabled in and repealed by the House of Assembly and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will be asked to consider the effect of the repeal on the cost of producing and delivering electricity and reduce the cost accordingly.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 56 – Elimination of Bonuses in Power Rates Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill provides that the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board must not include bonuses for executive-level employees of electric public utilities as a cost when determining utility rates.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 58 – Transparency in Power Rates Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill provides that, for transparency in power rates, any rate increase granted for Nova Scotia Power Incorporated attributable to a Provincial policy, enactment, decision or other requirement by government does not take effect until specifically approved by an Act of the Legislature.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 60 – Ratepayer Fairness Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill provides that in determining the allowable return on common equity included in the general rate set for an electric public utility the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board must use a method that results in fairness to electricity ratepayers, and which considers: returns allowed for peer utility organizations, risk-free rates of return yielded by Government of Canada long-term bonds, an equity-risk premium appropriate to the electricity industry and to the regulatory environment enjoyed by the utility, and a separate fuel-adjustment mechanism. The Bill prohibits the Board from considering the results of a settlement conference or agreement reached by the utility’s stakeholders in establishing an allowable return.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 62 – Pension Benefits Act (amended) – Allan MacMaster (PC)
This Bill amends the Act and its unproclaimed replacement to require annual written statements sent to members of a pension plan also be sent to former members and retired members, and that the statement contain information about the investment performance and solvency of the pension fund and how amendments to the pension plan and decisions made by the employer in the preceding year are expected to affect the pension plan.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House

Bill No. 63 – Transparency for Homeowners Act – Allan MacMaster (PC)
This Bill amends the Assessment Act to require that notices of assessment inform the property owners that they are entitled to request all relevant information used to determine their property assessment regardless of whether it is being appealed.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 64 – Income Tax Act (amended) – Allan MacMaster (PC)
This Bill seeks to provide a non-refundable tax credit to eligible farmers in Nova Scotia who donate certain agricultural products they produced to Nova Scotia food banks.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 66 – Multiple Sclerosis Patient Support Act– Leo Glavine (Lib)
This Bill is designed to establish and fund clinical trials for Liberation Therapy pioneered by Dr Paolo Zamboni of Ferrara, Italy, for the treatment of chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency in persons with multiple sclerosis; and for the observation of patients who travel outside of Canada to undergo Liberation Therapy. The Dalhousie Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit would conduct the clinical trials.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 67 – Buy Nova Scotia First Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill would require the Provincial Government to purchase agricultural products from Nova Scotian producers when purchasing food items to supply operations carried out by a department or office.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 68 – Value for Money Act– Allan MacMaster (PC)
This Bill seeks to address waste and inefficiencies in Government programs that undermine the public’s confidence in and support of those programs. The Bill requires more attention to be paid to program performance, results and customer satiscfaction. Each government agency will be required to draft a strategic plan for its program activities and a performance plan spanning five years to be updated every 3 years. Agencies must also submit final reports on actual program performance for the previous fiscal year. These reports must explain, if it is the case, why program goals have not been met.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS

Bill No. 57 – Crosbie Memorial Trust Fund Act (amended) – Jim Morton (NDP)
This Bill authorizes the trustees for the Crosbie Memorial Trust Fund to transfer all remaining funds to The Crosbie House Society.
Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

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) – Debate adjourned on second reading.
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.
Bill No. 11 – Nova Scotia Tartan Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 13 – Education Act (amended) - Debate adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 17 – Financial Measures (2012) Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 20 – Public Trustee Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 22 – Mortgage Regulation Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 24 – Purchasing Management Association of Canada Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 30 - Promotion of Respectful and Responsible Relationships Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 32 – Securities Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 34 – Matrimonial Statutes Repeal Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 37 – Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 39 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 41 – Grandparents’ Rights Affirmation Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 52 – Conservation Easements Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 55 – Community Easements Act– Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 59 – Fish Harvesters Registration and Certification Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 61 – Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 65 – Consumer Protection Act (amended)– Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 69 – Appropriations Act, 2012 – Status: Passed third reading on April 27, 2012 and is awaiting Royal Assent.

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.
Bill No. 10 – Blueprint for the Future of Public Education in Nova Scotia Act – Debate was adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 12 – Petroleum Products Pricing Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 14 – Trade Union Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 15 – House of Assembly Management Commission Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 16 – Affordable Higher education Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 18 – Agriculture and Marketing Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 19 – Early Development Instrument Assessment Program Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 21 – Sound Recording Tax Credit Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 23 – Day Care Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 25 – Victims’ Rights and Services Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 26 – Stand Up Against Bullying Day Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 27 – Cyberbullying Intervention Act – Debate was adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 28 – Safer Schools Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 29 – Child Protection Intervention Act – Debate was adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 31 – Residential Tenancies Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 33 – Diabetic Persons Support Act - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 35 – Motor Vehicle Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 36 – Income Tax Act (amended) - Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 38 – Finance Act (amended)– Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 40 – Labour Standards Code (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 42 – Rural Nova Scotia Physicians Act – Status: Debate adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 43 – Newly Trained Nova Scotia Doctors Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 44 – Health Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 45 – Ratepayer Protection Act – Status: Debate adjourned on second reading.
Bill No. 46 – Electricity Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 47 – Modernizing Government Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 48 – Balanced Budget Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 49 – Income Tax Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 50 – Next Generation Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 51 – Red Tape Reduction Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 53 – Debt Settlement Protection Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 54 – Power Rate Reduction Review Act - Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 56 – Elimination of Bonuses in Power Rates Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 58 – Transparency in Power Rates Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 60 – Ratepayer Fairness Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 62 – Pension Benefits Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
Bill No. 63 – Transparency for Homeowners Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 64 – Income Tax Act (amended) – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 66 – Multiple Sclerosis Patient Support Act– Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 67 – Buy Nova Scotia First Act – Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
Bill No. 68 – Value for Money Act– Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private and Local Bills
Bill No. 57 – Crosbie Memorial Trust Fund Act (amended) – Passed first 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 (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.