State Senate votes to extend Lamont’s emergency powers until February 15 – NBC Connecticut
The Connecticut Senate voted on Tuesday to expand Democratic Governor Ned Lamont’s emergency powers for the sixth time during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the backsliding of Republican lawmakers who argue the state is no longer in crisis.
“Everything must stop,” said Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott. “No one can deny that there is no public health emergency and that individual, local and legislative powers must be restored.”
Still, Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Martin Looney D-New Haven said state lawmakers had a “much stronger reason” to extend public health and civilian preparedness emergencies than in July, last time around. that Lamont’s powers were extended until September 30. He noted how the state’s COVID positivity rate and the number of hospitalizations have increased since then due to the delta variant.
“It stands to reason that the pandemic is always with us no matter how much wishful thinking Republicans may say it is not,” he said. “It is clear that we need to ensure that the governor has these emergency powers when needed to move forward.”
The resolution to extend the governor’s powers until Feb. 15 was passed Tuesday 18-15 with two Democrats joining Republicans in opposition. Three senators were absent.
The vote came a day after the House of Representatives voted 80-60 in favor of extending Lamont’s renewed declaration on public health and civil preparedness emergencies until early February, when the legislative session Ordinary General Assembly is expected to open. Democrats control both houses.
Although there were strong protests outside the State Capitol during Monday’s House debate, including parents unhappy with Lamont’s decree requiring face masks in schools, it was a lot quieter Tuesday.
Only a handful of people showed up for debate in the Senate. A few watched the proceedings on television on the first floor of the Capitol, the only floor where members of the public are currently allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Lamont and Democratic legislative leaders said the public health emergency should be extended in order to quickly deal with pandemic-related issues that may arise, such as new variants, the distribution of reminders, masking requirements and vaccination, and vaccinations for children. They argue that the measures taken so far have worked in Connecticut, unlike other parts of the country where infection rates are high.
In the past two weeks, the mobile average number of new daily cases has declined by 251 in Connecticut, a drop of 34.1%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, awarded the Connecticut mask mandate, for example, for fewer pediatric hospitalizations and school closings.
Lamont is expected to issue around a dozen decrees, mostly extensions of existing orders such as the school mask mandate which was due to expire on Thursday.
Looney said lawmakers will have a say in these orders, noting how the six top legislative leaders can come together to consider vetoing one of the orders 72 hours after they are issued by the governor – a provision that was included in recent bipartisan legislation that placed limits on the governor’s capacity.
But Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly R-Stratford said he didn’t think it was worth trying to challenge any of the orders, given the Democratic majority on the six-member panel.
“Which makes you think in a day or two, within 72 hours, they’re going to miraculously change their mind – when six times they’ve wanted to stay in there – only to come out all of a sudden,” Kelly asked.