The Governor delivered the Throne Speech to reconvene Parliament on Friday 7 November. Inclement weather forced proceedings indoors to the Senate Chamber for the first time in 15 years, which restricted the size of the audience but important members of both the in power OBA Party and the opposition PLP party turned up for the event.
The Government listed 25 “highlights” of the speech, those of particular note are:-
Development of a National Youth policy; measures to get young people into training/employment and counter the influence of gang culture;
Amendments to tax legislation to ensure compliance with international standards for automatic exchange of tax information and to strengthen debt collection capabilities;
Changes to the Defence Act to eliminate conscription and transfer of responsibility for maritime patrols to the Regiment;
Amendments to Pharmacy and Poison Act to allow medical use of specific forms of cannabis-containing products (closely following the products endorsed by NICE)
A new Energy Act to increase competition between power producers; request for proposals to develop the ‘finger’ peninsula at the airport for a large-scale solar photovoltaic facility
Amendments to legislation or police powers to allow i) discretion to caution first-time cannabis possession offenders, ii) roadside breath testing, iii) on-the-spot fines for minor offences, iv) devolved responsibility to attend minor road-traffic accidents, v) possession of child pornography to be more specifically outlawed
A reverse mortgage programme to allow asset-rich seniors to free up cash for healthcare and other expenses; proposals to name and shame employers who do not pay employees’ health insurance
A committee to explore ways of tackling domestic violence and legislation to require mediation in child custody cases
Bermuda’s Freedom of Information legislation (“PATI” – Public Access to Information Act) to become operational from 1 April 2015; and Government Boards to be open to public nominations.
A link to the full speech is at http://bernews.com/2014/11/full-text-2014-throne-speech/