Hello again friends and neighbours!
For the past month and a half, my colleagues and I have been immersed in the duty of bringing forward new legislation to help get people back to work and to deliver on the priorities of Alberta families and businesses. Being part of this process is a fascinating – yet somewhat intense – experience.
I can tell by the emails to my constituency office that many of you have taken a real interest in some of the new legislation passed during the last session. I encourage that enthusiasm wholeheartedly! Unfortunately, we sometimes hear from people after a Bill has already been passed; that’s a bit too late. Let me tell you a little about how the process works so that you can keep up with Bills that are coming and have your say while there’s still time for me to consider and represent your point of view.
Generally speaking, Government Bills propose laws that would govern some aspect of society. They are introduced in the Assembly by a Minister during First Reading. Because copies of Bills are so easily distributed nowadays, they are not actually read aloud during First Reading. This is probably a good thing; some are quite lengthy! There is no debate at this stage, but members vote to allow the Bill to proceed to the next stage.
Second Reading is the stage where the debates happen. If the Bill passes that stage, it goes to what’s called Committee of the Whole. This is a process that allows for amendments and further debates on each amendment proposed. At the end of Committee of the Whole, the Bill is updated with the accepted amendments. It is then ready for the next stage.
Third Reading provides one last opportunity for members of the Assembly to debate the principles of the Bill and its amendments. At this final stage, members must decide whether or not the Bill is in the best interest of Albertans. Typically, but not always, there is not much debate at this stage. If the Bill passes Third Reading, it goes to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent, at which time, the Bill becomes law and is referred to as an Act.
Getting a Bill from First Reading to Royal Assent takes a bit of time. You can keep track of the status of each Bill by checking the Legislative Assembly Website at www.assembly.ab.ca. Live and recorded streams of all the action in the House are also available online. Just go to the Assembly website and click on “Watch the Assembly” on the homepage. If your preference is to read through every word spoken in the Legislative Assembly, Hansard transcripts can be found there as well. Alberta Assembly TV broadcasts all Assembly proceedings and is available to Telus customers on channel 843, Shaw customers on channel 930, and Shaw BlueCurve customers on channel 263.
Every piece of legislation was once a Bill that went through the rigorous process of introduction, debate, amendments, more debate, final debate, and, at last, approval. We began this fall session right where we left off at the end of June with the introduction of Bill 49, the Labour Mobility Act, which enables us to break down barriers to employment and attract skilled professionals to our province. This was followed by several large investments totaling $10 billion that will create more than 16,000 new jobs, including the largest ever investment in Alberta’s technology sector from Amazon Web Services.
Through Alberta’s Recovery Plan, we’ve been able to not only recover the 340,000 jobs lost due to the pandemic but also to create an additional 105,400 jobs across our province. But all the new investments being announced around our province will require tens-of-thousands of skilled workers, and we’re taking action to ensure employers can fill these positions.
Some other legislative accomplishments from this fall session include:
• The Red Tape Reduction Act, which enables municipalities to create entertainment districts and creates new opportunities for economic growth while saving Albertans, and Alberta businesses, time and money;
• The Infrastructure Accountability Act, which brings transparency to the capital planning process for taxpayer-funded infrastructure;
• The Municipal Government (Restoring Tax Accountability) Amendment Act, which restores a special lien that municipalities can use to collect unpaid oil and gas taxes;
• The Alberta Housing Amendment Act, which provides more transparency on affordable housing, as promised;
• The Election Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), which bans foreign money from Alberta politics and establishes a set election date based on recommendation from the Chief Electoral Officer;
• The Mineral Resource Development Act, which modernizes Alberta’s regulation of critical and rare earth minerals;
• The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act, which helps take the burden off municipalities and taxpayers for the cost of recycling; and,
• The Education Statutes (Students First) Amendment Act, which increases student safety by providing more transparency and accountability in teacher discipline matters.
I love spending time in my constituency getting to know the people I represent and hearing their views on important issues. It helps me understand differing opinions and points of view, and helps me feel confident in decisions I make on behalf of my constituents. Now, it’s true that not all of my constituents agree on how to solve all issues, but I believe firmly that in the end, we all want what’s best for each other and the province. It is my absolute honour to wrestle with the options as we find the best ways to deliver on the priorities of Albertans.
My heartfelt thanks to all my constituents who take the time to explain their views, and who are interested in considering others. Very best wishes to everyone for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season and Merry Christmas to all!
— Rick Wilson is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin. His constituency office can be reached by emailing email@example.com or by calling 780-360-8003.