The General Assembly voted last week for a 44-word resolution extending Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers through Sept. 30, making Connecticut among the last in the northeast under a COVID-19 state of emergency.
Lamont has lifted nearly all restrictions imposed under his emergency authority since March 9, 2020, with the most visible and contentious exception being a requirement for mask wearing by the unvaccinated in schools and other indoor public places.
“In this case, we think the governor has gone too far,” said Rep. David Yaccarino, one of the Republicans who praised Lamont’s overall management of the pandemic. “Governor, you did a good job. Put the brakes on.”
House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora said he’s frustrated that Lamont views the emergency powers as all or nothing.
“It’s been treated like a light switch — it’s either on or off. And we would have liked some kind of a medium throughout this process, a dimmer switch,” Candelora said. “Because I don’t believe that we are in a state of emergency, such that the governor should have these extraordinary powers.”
Rep. William Petit joined his Republican colleagues in voting no on the emergency powers extension.
"There is no longer a public health emergency related to the pandemic that warrants the continuation of these emergency orders until Sept. 30 that the legislative branch isn't equipped to handle," Petit said in a press release. "We swore to uphold the constitution and in order to do so need three equal participating branches of government. And right now with the continuation of these emergency powers that isn't the case."
Despite unanimous opposition from House Republicans and nine House Democrats, the House voted 73-56 in favor of allowing the governor to continue his executive authority. This authorization is the sixth extension of this authority since the original declaration went into effect on March 10, 2020.
Concurrent debates in the House and Senate took place Wednesday, July 14. Passage came on votes of 73-56 in the House and 19-15 in the Senate, with nine House Democrats and four Senate Democrats joining the GOP minority in opposition.
Democratic leaders said the extension was prudent and that a legislative committee retained the power to veto new executive orders.
“I’m glad that this passed. We’ve seen the Delta variant in this state,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. “It is increasing our infection rates here in the state. Even though we have high vaccination rates, we’re not done with this pandemic.”
The Connecticut Mirror
was used in this report.