HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers are expected to return to the state Capitol next week to decide whether to extend Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic until early February.
The state Senate is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the Senate Democrats. While a formal announcement has not yet been made, the House of Representatives could convene as soon as Monday.
Lamont, a Democrat, said last week he would ask the Democratic-controlled General Assembly to extend his powers until the next regular legislative session so pandemic-related issues such as booster shots, masking requirements, vaccinations for children and nursing home residents can be dealt with quickly. If approved, it will be the sixth extension of his executive authority during the pandemic.
Lamont’s authority is currently scheduled to end on Sept. 30. That’s also when his order requiring mask-wearing in schools would stop. Last week, the governor said he believes the rule should be extended longer to protect children who cannot be vaccinated and to keep Connecticut’s schools open.
Conservative groups have criticized Lamont’s request as an overreach, with some calling him “King Ned” on social media. The governor, however, has said he’s tried to use the power narrowly to address public health issues.
The extension of emergency powers is the only matter lawmakers are expected to take up in the special legislative session, despite calls from Republican leaders to also address juvenile crime.
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, and House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, called it “shameful” that lawmakers won’t address what they called an “escalating public safety emergency.”
Overall, juvenile arrests are at historic lows in Connecticut, though car thefts increased in 2020 from the previous year.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased in Connecticut by 348.7, an increase of 79.6%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. State data released Tuesday indicated 294 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, a decline of 15 since Monday. Of the 294 patients, 220 were not fully vaccinated.