Lawmakers in Connecticut narrowly approved a resolution to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers that were put in place at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic through the fall.
The House voted to extend Lamont’s power through Thursday, Sept. 30 by a vote of 73 to 56, while the Senate vote was closer, ending with a 19 to 15 margin, making Connecticut one of the last states in the northeast to remain under a state of emergency due to COVID-19.
Lamont first put Connecticut in a state of emergency in March 2020 when the virus first began rapidly spreading throughout the region.
The governor noted that he is only seeking to extend 11 of the hundreds of Executive Orders he put in place during the pandemic.
Among those orders includes facial covering requirements in certain settings, providing tenants with ample time to pay back rent, and allowing state-owned commuter lots to be used for COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Those orders were initially set to expire on Tuesday, July 20.
“These orders are still needed to protect the public and continue critical measures to provide healthcare access and economic relief and respond to evolving changes,” Lamont said this week, noting that they are “narrowly targeted to achieve specific goals.”
Not all lawmakers agreed with keeping Lamont’s emergency power in place, including Republican Congressman Mark Anderson.
“For more than a year, Connecticut residents complied with the rules and dutifully stayed home, wore masks and socially distanced,” he said in a statement.
“Yet now, when more than 60 percent of the population is vaccinated, businesses are returning to normal and the facts clearly show a substantial reduction in infection, transmission, hospitalization, and death, the governor is trying to mislead the public by contending the threat is still so grave he needs to retain near-unilateral control of the state.”
Craig Miner, the Chief Deputy Senate Republican Leader in Connecticut made reference to a classic film while expressing his displeasure about the way the vote went.
“I'm reminded of a line from 'The Wizard of Oz,' which is a fitting analogy for the way that this state continues to operate,” he stated. “That line is 'You're out of the woods, you're out of the dark.' My question remains: if we are not at that point yet, what is the standard for us to define when we would be?
“I would argue that there will be variants of this virus for the rest of our lives,” he continued. "Many of my constituents received the vaccine and do not want to be bound to the porch of their home. They also do not want their children bound by masks as they go back into the classroom to learn and socialize with their peers.”
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