Lawmakers Consider Further Extension of Governor’s Emergency Powers | Connecticut News


HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – The governor of Connecticut may request an extension of his emergency powers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Ned Lamont raised this possibility during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

“We are preparing for legislative leaders and the legislature a list of executive orders that we believe should be prosecuted, but I would like to have the legislature’s imprimatur on this,” Lamont said.

The governor’s emergency powers have been in place for about two years. They have been extended six times since the start of the pandemic. The last time it happened in September, lawmakers passed it by narrow vote.

The current iteration expires on February 15.

Lamont said he was working with the president of the state Senate on a set of 10 to 12 executive orders that would extend his powers a seventh time.

He has sought to assure the public that the powers will continue to be used to protect public health and that they will not be abused.

“I think there is a small group of things going forward where it would be helpful for us to have some agility to go fast,” said Lamont.

State lawmakers would consider those orders when they are convened next month.

Republicans in the Senate have said they disagree with this. Republican Senate Leader Kevin Kelly released a statement:

Our government was never designed to work this way. Connecticut has been under emergency executive powers for almost two years, and now is a seventh expansion really in the pipeline? It’s scandalous. There is no reason why the legislature cannot act as an equal arm of government to manage the response to the pandemic and represent the voices of our constituents. It is high time to restore the oversight and transparency that our three-branch system of government was designed to protect.

Today, under executive powers, residents still struggle to get PCR tests and results in a timely manner. Capacity and test infrastructure are not meeting demand. The teachers do not feel supported. Staffing issues persist. COVID-19 positive patients are brought into nursing homes and the voices of nursing home residents and their loved ones are ignored. Connecticut would benefit from a legislative contribution and co-equal branches of government. It is the responsibility of the legislator to fight for the right of the people to be part of this process. It is the government of the people and their voice must be heard.

Republicans have said Lamont’s ability to act quickly under power hasn’t really alleviated the pandemic.

However, Democrats defended the orders.

“I think the governor has done a good job using his powers so far,” said Senator Martin Looney, pro tempore president of the Senate. “He has shown restraint and has not abused them in the two years since the emergency ordinance took effect.”

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