CT Senate votes to extend Lamont’s emergency powers


Image via ctmirror.org

Tyler Dyer, News Editor

The Senate Democratic majority gave final approval Tuesday to a resolution extending Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency COVID-19 pandemic powers through February 15, 2022, keeping mask and vaccine mandates in place. Connecticut is both an outlier and in the mainstream among states with tremendous success in fighting the latest surge in cases: Continuing a state of emergency may be relatively unusual. However, the key mandates they allow are not. 

The resolution to extend the governor’s powers until February 15 passed 18-15 on Tuesday with three Democratic absences and two Democrats, Sens. Dennis Bradley of Bridgeport and Cathy Osten of Sprague, joining all 13 Republicans in opposition. The vote came in the day after the House of Representatives voted 80-60 to extend Lamont’s power, with 10 Democrats joining a Republican minority that voted as a bloc in opposition. If this had not passed Tuesday, the emergency declared on March 10, 2020, would have expired Thursday, leaving the first-term Democratic governor’s mask and vaccine mandates unenforceable absent specific legislation. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, noted that the state COVID positivity rate and the number of hospitalizations have increased since the delta variant and since Lamont’s powers were extended until September 30. This gives state legislators a “much stronger reason” to extend the public health and civil preparedness emergencies than back in July.  

“It’s self-evident the pandemic is still with us, no matter how much wishful thinking the Republicans may engage in by saying that it is not,” he said. “Clearly we need to have the governor have these emergency powers when necessary to go forward.” 

Senate Republicans stated that the extraordinary delegation of legislative powers granted to the governor no longer are warranted, even if most shied from debating specific executive orders. Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, stated he is vaccinated and urges others to do so. He also explained that many Republicans believe the emergency is over, while the pandemic is not. However, it can be directed without the governor’s remarkable powers, allowing him to suspend state laws and impose new ones temporarily. 

After the passage, Lamont signed an order reauthorizing ten previous orders. This includes funding to place the homeless in motels instead of shelters, the mask and vaccination mandates, and a requirement that landlords apply to the federally funded UniteCT program for rent relief before evicting a tenant for non-payment.