Tomorrow, the House of Assembly will come together for what has the potential to be the most transformational Parliamentary sessions in years.

The One Bermuda Alliance Government will ask the House to address long-standing unresolved issues to meet the needs of our people and our economy.

We will move forward with the question of cannabis reform, tabling for debate the report by Cannabis Reform Collaborative. The report was commissioned by National Security Minister Michael Dunkley and follows our Throne Speech commitment to start a national debate on a subject that needs to be addressed.

I am particularly keen to hear the views of MPs on the medical use of marijuana and also on decriminalization – a tough issue because we have to draw the clearest line between responsible behaviour and the negative impact the existing regime has had on the lives of so many Bermudians.

We will also move on our promise to eliminate conscription. This is obviously a big issue with many pros and cons. I am confident it can be managed in a phased approach that enables us to shape a volunteer Regiment that serves the needs of Bermuda in all circumstances.

We will bring forward legislation to create the statutory framework to legalize casino-style gaming. This will be followed by the introduction of a comprehensive body of regulations that range from social safeguards to anti-money laundering measures. I am particularly encouraged by the safeguards to protect our people.

Gaming is all about jobs for Bermudians, reviving tourism and generating revenue to help pay down our national debt. The move last year to allow gaming aboard cruise ships in port is already paying dividends, with licensing fees generating more than $600,000 in direct revenue to the Government.

Our main focus this session is to use gaming to drive hotel development, specifically at the St. George’s hotel site. Since releasing the RFP for the project we’ve had excellent responses from developers. I am advised that the selection has now been shortlisted to two excellent proposals. So the stage is being set at long last to bring a new hotel to Bermuda, generating jobs and career opportunities for Bermudians. This Parliamentary session is a vital step toward making all that happen.

Also this session, the Finance Minister will put forward the Public Bodies Reform Act to set up the legal framework for moving some government operations out of government, and doing so through processes such as mutualization and outsourcing in order to retain jobs.

Why are we doing this? Because Bermuda today cannot sustain the cost of public debt and government. When we took office in December 2012, we inherited a government that in the year that followed cost $330 million more than it took in.

The SAGE Report was very clear on the challenge: The debt and deficit situation constituted a threat to the financial foundation of the country and Bermuda’s ability to compete globally.

The goal here is to provide Bermudians with a government that is cost-effective, efficient and accountable; that becomes a positive force in restoring the Island’s competitiveness – a government in short that works better for people and for Bermuda.

There are many other initiatives that we will move forward with in the weeks to come. We want to bring about change that reflects Bermuda today, not Bermuda yesterday; change that creates jobs and opportunity while enabling us to build a future that is fair, free, inclusive and safe.