A marathon sitting of the Legislative Assembly was held on its final day before the May general election, with legislators and assembly staff wrapping up in the early morning hours on Tuesday.
The bills before the House were dealt with by 8pm, after which each one of the 15 lawmakers gave speeches of thanks to the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly staff and their colleagues, with members describing the work they had carried out over the past four years and what they would do if re-elected.
The House adjourned for the last time under the interim government at around 12.20am Tuesday. Legislators had to get through a raft of bills on Monday after the majority of members of the House on Friday chose to end business at 4.30pm, leaving the finalisation of 11 bills and an amendment to the Development Plan to be dealt with Monday.
Following a morning and afternoon of debate on an immigration bill to restrict the availability of certain jobs to Caymanians only and a brief debate on an amendment to the Elections Law, the lawmakers went on to pass the bills, as well as the motion to amend the Development Plan to rezone the “bluff” area of East End from residential zoning to hotel tourism.
The area at Colliers, which includes a parcel of Crown land, was rezoned on the recommendation of the Central Planning Authority after a private owner of one parcel in that area applied for the rezoning.
The legislators passed amendments to bills or created new bills, which included the Adoption of Children Bill, Cayman National Cultural Foundation Bill, Marine Conservation Bill, Mental Health Commission Bill, Mental Health Bill, Notaries Public Bill, Insurance Bill, Immigration Bill, Elections Bill, Health Practice Bill and Human Tissue Transplant Bill.
In what may be, for some, their final speeches within the Legislative Assembly, lawmakers each took the opportunity to make a closing oral contribution on the evening before the House will be officially dissolved by Britain-appointed Governor Duncan Taylor.
The speakers variously described the last four years as the most eventful, challenging or tumultuous they had experienced, as Cayman tackled economic woes and enforced spending restrictions from the UK. The leaders of the United Democratic Party and People’s Progressive Movement, McKeeva Bush and Alden McLaughlin, respectively, who so often have been at loggerheads in the Legislative Assembly over the four years, found some common ground when they pointed out the challenges independent candidates will face if elected and if required to form a government, highlighting that an united front and collective decisions were vital to the smooth running of the legislature.
Several of the lawmakers, including Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin, advised newcomers to the Legislative Assembly that being a legislator is hard work, with long hours, where they are at the disposal of their constituents at all times.
“Life as a legislator is difficult, life as a representative is challenging – Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, birthday, anniversary – people are at your door, that is part of being a representative in a small community,” he said.
All lawmakers who have served in government during the past four years, including the UDP and the members of the interim government, which revealed that its new name would be the People’s National Alliance, spoke some final remarks, which they could do as part of a debate on the motion to adjourn the House.
Cayman Islands Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who was the last member of the House to speak, thanked Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence and the Legislative Assembly staff for their efforts. Ms O’Connor-Connolly’s speech lasted about a minute before she moved a motion to adjourn the House sine dei, meaning it will meet at a future date to be determined.
Speaker Ms Lawrence had the final word, thanking members and staff for their work and efforts over the last years and telling legislators she was impressed by their camaraderie and their ability to leave the dramas of the Legislative Assembly behind them when they left the chamber.
She also called on the next administration to better address the needs of the parliament of the Cayman Islands, such as providing a research assistant and a library.
Following Tuesday’s dissolution of the Legislative Assembly, the interim government will continue to be the serving government and members of Cabinet.
The House is required to be dissolved prior to nomination day, which is Wednesday, 27 March.