The leadership of the Senate has set up two separate conference committees to work with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to reconcile differences in the passage of the Gola Affirmative Action and the Forest Acts, respectively.
The five-member Conference Committee constituted to work with the House of Representatives on the Gola Forest National Park is headed by Grand Kru County Senator and Chairman of the Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, Albert Chie; and assisted by Senators
Morris Saytumah, Daniel Naatehn and Thomas Grupee, among others.
Senator Peter Sonpon Coleman, who chairs the Committee on Gender, Health, Social Welfare, Women and Children Affairs, is chairing a five-member Conference Committee on the Affirmative Action Act.
It may be recalled that following a series of public hearings, the Senate on August 25, passed the Affirmative Action for Equitable Participation and Representation Act of 2016.
According to the Senate version of the Act, “upon its passage, 21 Special Legislative Constituencies are established within the country for which additional 21 members of the House of Representatives shall be elected beginning with the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.”
The would-be beneficiaries of the 21 seats are women, youth, and members of the disabled community.
However, the House of Representatives passed the Act, but drastically reduce the number of seats from 21 to seven. They then sent it back to the Senate, a decision that has prompted the constitution of a conference committee.
According to the House’s passage, there would be five seats for women to be divided among five regions, while the youth and persons living with disabilities will have their respective seats.
Meanwhile, the Act establishing the Gola Forest National Park was first passed by the House of Representatives in September 2015; a year later in September 2016, the Senate concurred with the House for its enactment.
The Act is mainly intended to work side-by-side with the numerous protocols and international instruments aimed at curbing the devastating consequences of climate change.
It maintains that despite her relatively small territorial size, Liberia contains a significant amount of biodiversity of over 2,900 different vascular plants, including 225 trees species, 500 bird species, 500 mammal species, and 75 reptiles.
The establishment of the Gola National Park is among 10 Bills President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sent to the Legislature to be acted upon during the one month Special Sitting.