April 19, 2013

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting April 18, 2013

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The Spring sitting of the fifth session of the sixty-first General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature began on March 26, 2013. As of April 18th, 6 Government Bills, 46 Private Members Bills and 1 Private and Local Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly.

Below is a summary of those Bills introduced between April 12th and April 18th, 2013.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 42 – Pension Benefits Act (amended) – Hon. Frank Corbett
This Bill amends the Pension Benefits Act by: (a) changing the definition of "spouse" to use the present tense, rather than the past tense, of "cohabit" to make it consistent with other clauses; (b) changing the heading preceding Section 74 to clarify that the section also applies to the breakdown of spousal relationships other than marriages; and (c) clarifying that the application of the provision governing the division of pension entitlement applies to former spouses.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 51 - Financial Measures (2013) Act – Hon. Maureen MacDonald
The Bill proposes a number of tax measures including a $1,000 non-refundable age tax credit for seniors with a "taxable income" or "taxable income earned in Canada" of less than $24,000. Further, the Bill proposes to reduce Nova Scotia's small business threshold for corporate taxes from $400,000 to $350,000, with the small business corporate income tax rate being reduced from 3.5 per cent to 3.0 per cent. Further changes include the elimination of interest on overpayment of corporation capital tax with the refund for overpayment, and an increase in probate taxes and tobacco tax. The Bill also changes how the taxable paid-up capital of a bank is computed.

It is also proposed that the provisions of the Sales Tax Act that deal with tax-inclusive pricing be removed, along with those that provided for a transitional tax payable from April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998. The Bill proposes to incorporate into the Act the provisions of the Sales Tax Act Regulations that relate to: (a) the Household Energy Rebate Program; (b) point-of-sale rebates for books and audio books, children's clothing, children's footwear, children's diapers and feminine hygiene products; (c) provincially administered rebates in relation to computers and vehicles for persons with specified disabilities, fire-fighting equipment for volunteer fire departments and municipalities and building materials used to repair, improve or restore heritage properties; and (d) the First-time Home Buyer Rebate Program. This Bill requires an approval from a majority of voters, via a referendum, before any Government can introduce any bill to amend or repeal these Sale Tax Act provisions.

The Bill increases fees payable for the following: the Companies Act pertaining to unlimited liability companies; the Corporate Registration Act; the Motor Vehicle Act for having a special number assigned to a vehicle as the serial number; the Motor Vehicle Act for restoring a driver's licence following revocation for an alcohol-related offence; the Personal Property Security Act for registration fees; the Payment into Court Act for prothonotary deductions; the Summary Proceedings Act; and the Trust and Loan Companies Act.

Other changes include that the Public Service Superannuation Act be amended to require the Minister of Finance to appoint as a director of Public Service Superannuation Plan Trustee Incorporated, a person recommended by the Nova Scotia Government Retired Employees Association (NSGRE). Previously, the Minister only considered input from the NSGRE, and other retirees, in making this appointment.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

PRIVATE MEMBER'S BILLS

Bill No. 40 – Education Act (amended) – Eddie Orrell (PC)
This Bill amends the Education Act to limit class sizes in grades primary to three to no more than 25 students, unless otherwise requested by a school advisory council and approved by the Minister.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 41 – Child Protection Intervention Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill allows a justice of the peace (designated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), after an ex parte application by the Minister, to make an order restraining a respondent from having contact with a child (or children) if the justice of the peace determines the child (or children) is in need of protection from the respondent. A child is "in need of protection", according to this Bill, if the child has suffered physical harm or sexual abuse, or it is that there is a substantial risk (real chance of danger apparent on the evidence) a child (or children) will suffer physical harm or sexual abuse at the hands of the respondent. Such an order prevails over a custody or access order. The order is reviewed by the court within a specified time, at which point the court either confirms or varies the order and directs a hearing on the matter, or terminates the order. At a hearing, the judge may, again, either confirm, vary or terminate the order. Anyone not complying with the order is guilty of an offence.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 44 - Ratepayer Fairness Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill amends the Public Utilities Act to require the Board, when establishing an allowable return on common equity to be included in the general rate set for an electric public utility, to use a method that results in a return on common equity that is fair to electricity ratepayers, compares these returns to those of peer organizations and the risk-free rates on Government of Canada bonds, and takes into account an equity-risk premium appropriate to the industry and a separate fuel adjustment mechanism, and does not allow the Board to consider any agreement reached by the public utility's stakeholders.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 45 - Transparency in Power Rates Act – Chuck Porter (PC)
This Bill amends the Public Utilities Act to provide that the portion of any rate increase granted for Nova Scotia Power Incorporated that is attributable to an enactment of the Province or a policy, decision, or other requirement of the Government, does not take effect until it is specifically approved by an Act of the Legislature.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 46 – Public Utilities Act (amended) – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill amends the Public Utilities Act to require Nova Scotia Power Incorporated to prepare service-standards audits and to require the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to review the audits and apply service-standards penalties, if required by the regulations, when determining the allowable return on common equity included in the general rate set for Nova Scotia Power Incorporated.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 47 – Capital Projects Review Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill makes certain capital projects, that exceed specified spending amounts, subject to independent review, conducted by an independent reviewer appointed by the Governor in Council. The reviewer is required to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the project and to consider other options that would likely achieve the same objects as the project seeks to achieve, and then to make a recommendation of whether to proceed with the project.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 48 – Power Rate Reduction Review Act – Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill creates a committee to prepare an inventory, in consultation with the public, of the statutes, regulations, orders (or parts thereof) and decisions of the Government of the Province that likely increases the cost of electricity by more than $50,000 per year. Within twenty sitting days after the tabling of this inventory by the committee with the Assembly, the Government must introduce legislation to repeal the statutes, regulations and orders and reverse the decisions as set out in the inventory.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 49 - Revenue Act (amended) – Alfie MacLeod (PC)
This Bill amends the Revenue Act to exempt the mining industry from the gasoline and diesel oil tax in the same way as the fishing, farming and forestry industries are exempted.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 50 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Keith Bain (PC)
This Bill amends the Maintenance and Custody Act by: (a) adding a definition of "grandparent"; (b) removing the requirement for leave of the court for an application by a grandparent for an access order;(b) requiring the court to advise parties in a custody or access application of the option of mediation;(c) setting out matters the court must consider in making a custody or access order; (d) requiring a consideration of grandparent access in all custody and access orders; and (e) providing that a person who has custody of a child shall not unreasonably place obstacles to personal contact between the child and the child's grandparents.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 52 - Safer Schools Act - Hon. Jamie Baillie (PC)
This Bill gives the Minister of Education the power to establish policies and guidelines respecting bullying prevention and intervention, including training for staff, procedures for reporting and responding, the use of disciplinary measures, and the provision of resources to students. The Minister may also establish policies and guidelines to increase awareness of, and procedures for responding to, inappropriate student behavior (including bullying, gender based violence or incidents based on homophobia) and to establish a disciplinary framework. The Bill also requires each school board to have its own policies and guidelines with respect to bullying and inappropriate student behavior, and to file a report outlining incidents of bullying for each of the schools within the school board.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 53 - Stand Up Against Bullying Day Act – Eddie Orrell (PC)
This Bill set aside the third Thursday in September of every year for the observation of Stand Up Against Bullying Day in the Province.
Status: Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.


PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS

Bill No. 43 - An Act to Incorporate the Trustees (amended) – Hon. Karen Casey (Lib)
This Bill amends the Act to Incorporate the Trustees of the Onslow Cemetery Company and replaces approval of the by-laws of trustees of the Onslow Cemetery Company by the Governor in Council with approval by the members of the Company.
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 second reading, and was referred to the Law Amendments Committee.
  • Bill No. 32 - Solemnization of Marriage Act (amended) - Passed second reading, and was referred to the Law Amendments Committee.
  • Bill No. 36 - Provincial Court Act (amended) - Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 37 - Innovative Transportation Act - Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 42 – Pension Benefits Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 51 - Financial Measures (2013) 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.
  • Bill No. 31 – Full Disclosure of Accounting Changes Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 33 – Rural Nova Scotia Physicians Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 34 – Ratepayer Protection Act – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 35 – Trade Union Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 38 – Trade Union Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 39 – Trade Union Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 40 – Education Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 41 – Child Protection Intervention Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 44 - Ratepayer Fairness Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 45 - Transparency in Power Rates Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 46 – Public Utilities Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 47 – Capital Projects Review Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 48 – Power Rate Reduction Review Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 49 - Revenue Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 50 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 52 - Safer Schools Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 53 - Stand Up Against Bullying Day Act– Passed first reading, and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Private and Local Bills 

  • Bill No. 43 – An Act to Incorporate the Trustees (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 Gavin MacDonaldat (902) 491-4464 or at 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.