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The 4th session of the 39th Legislature recessed for the summer break on June 17, 2009. A number of government bills received Royal Assent during this spring session, including:

* Bill 24--The Aboriginal Languages Recognition Act, which recognizes Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Ojibway and Oji-Cree as the Aboriginal languages spoken and used in Manitoba.

* Bill 31--The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act, 2010, which implements measures in the 2010 Manitoba Budget, and makes various other amendments to tax and financial legislation, including:

** Amendments to the Balanced Budget, Fiscal Management and Taxpayer Accountability Act which would suspend requirements for the government to table a balanced budget each fiscal year and to achieve a positive balance each year. These measures would be in effect for the current fiscal year and the next three years or until a positive net result is achieved, whichever is earlier (the "economic recovery period").

** Amendments to Members' Salaries Regulation which would: suspend cost-of-living increases for MLA salaries for the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year; and reduce the additional salary payable to ministers by 20% for the duration of the economic recovery period.

* Bill 32--The Protection for Persons in Care Act, which requires the reporting of abuse of in-patients and residents of hospitals, personal care homes and designated health facilities. This Bill extends that reporting requirement to patients of geriatric day hospitals and emergency rooms.

* Bill 39--The Child And Family Services Amendment Act (Children's Advocate Reporting), which creates a requirement that the annual report of the Children's Advocate to be referred to the Standing Committee of the Assembly on Legislative Affairs for consideration*

During the June 17, 2010 division on Concurrence and Third Reading of Bill 31--The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act, 2010, procedural issues arose regarding whether or not the Minister of Finance rose in a timely manner to cast her vote. Ultimately, Deputy Speaker Marilyn Brick ruled that as unanimous consent was denied for the Minister's vote to be recorded, her vote would not be counted even though the Minister was in her seat for the division.

Another procedural issue developed this session regarding the public discussion of a confidential document considered by the Legislative Assembly Management Commission this * past winter and spring. On June 2, 2010 Kevin Lamoureux referred during question period to a budget submission from the Children's Advocate. Speaker George Hickes intervened and ruled that the document was confidential and should not be referred to in the House. Dr. Jon Gerrard raised a matter of privilege on June 7 regarding members' ability to reference the document in the House. The Deputy Speaker took the matter under advisement. Subsequently the document began appearing in newspapers, on TV and on the web. Following a further point of order regarding this issue raised on June 10, the Deputy Speaker ruled that Members could now refer to the budget submission in the House and committee because the document had been released to the media. Finally, on June 16 the Deputy Speaker ruled on Dr. Gerrard's privilege submission, stating that no Matter of Privilege existed as the Member was not prevented from performing his duties as an MLA.

On June 25th, 2010 the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs met to consider child welfare in Manitoba. Appearing before the committee to respond to MLAs' questions were Bonnie Kocsis, Acting Children's Advocate, Irene Hamilton, Ombudsman and Carol Bellringer, Auditor General. This marked the first occasion a Manitoba Standing Committee met to consider these matters.

The House considered two opposition day motions this spring. On June 3, 2010 Official Opposition Justice Critic Kelvin Goertzen moved:
 That the Legislative Assembly
 of Manitoba urge the Minister
 of Justice to implement a
 departmental policy to ensure
 that every breach of a court
 order for a high-risk offender
 is reported to police and that
 the total number of individuals
 who are in breach of their court
 orders under the supervision of
 probation services is reported on
 a quarterly basis.

Following two hours of debate the House passed this motion on a vote of yeas 49, nays 0.

On June 16, 2010 Heather Stefanson moved:
 That the Legislative Assembly
 endorse the concept that
 legislation should not be
 changed to protect ministerial
 salaries for failure to adhere to
 legislative requirements.

The House defeated this motion on a vote of yeas 21, nays 29.

In December 2009, Chief Electoral Officer Richard Balasko announced his intention to retire in 2010 after 20 years as CEO and 30 years with Elections Manitoba. On May 20, 2010 the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs agreed to strike a subcommittee consisting of four government members, two official opposition members and one independent member to manage the process of hiring a new Chief Electoral Officer. They specified that the "subcommittee may only report back to the committee with a recommendation that has received a general level of acceptance by all members."

Rick Yarish

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
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Title Annotation:Legislative Reports
Author:Yarish, Rick
Publication:Canadian Parliamentary Review
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1CMAN
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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Next Article:Senate.

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