Legislature scrambles with laws

Government ministers expect a last-minute scramble to pass critical legislation with just six working days left before the Legislative Assembly must be dissolved ahead of the Cayman Islands’ general elections.

The dissolution, which by law must happen by midnight Tuesday, 24 March, leaves lawmakers with just today, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week, and the following Monday, 23 March, to pass legislation and approve emergency funding. Next Tuesday’s regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting will preclude members of the Legislative Assembly from meeting that day.

‘It’s going to be a long week,’ Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said.

Several long-awaited pieces of legislation are expected to be voted on the in the meeting, including a revamp of the Education Law that would increase the minimum age for school attendance to 17 and outlaw corporal punishment of students.

‘That bill will pass, unless something happens to me,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

Another proposal that will likely be considered is the Children’s Bill. It would require professionals who work with kids, such as doctors or teachers, to report suspected cases of child abuse to authorities.

Ministers were uncertain whether the National Conservation Bill would make it into the LA during this meeting. Cabinet is expected to consider final changes to the proposal on Tuesday.

Other bills, such as the Customs Tariff Bill, which seeks to reorganise how customs duty is charged and collected on certain imported items; and changes to the Companies Law and Exempted Limited Partnership Law could come before the Legislature as well.

The Finance Committee of the Legislative Assembly is expected to convene during the meeting as well. It will consider, among other things, $915,810 in funding for an investigation into alleged corruption within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service that was approved by Cabinet this week.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said that it was unlikely government would be able to pass all the bills it would like to in the meeting, the final one to be held before the 20 May general elections.

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