Most of the state will fully reopen Wednesday but the state Capitol will stay closed to the public, advocates, and lobbyists while lawmakers finish out the 2021 legislative session.
“We’re going to remain closed until session ends,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.
Ritter said they have to limit the number of people who enter the Capitol and there is no way of knowing if those people are vaccinated.
“I feel strongly that the best thing we can do for the state is do our job, pass a budget, pass legislation, go home on June 9 and open the Capitol building after that,” Ritter said.
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But Republican lawmakers say it’s hypocritical of the Democratic majority.
“Every business in the state of Connecticut has a plan to reopen except for the legislature,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said.
Candelora said there’s no reason they should not be able to open up the building before June 9, which is the constitutional end of the legislative session.
“If you did open the building you could have 4,000 people in here,” Ritter said.
It’s made it hard on advocates who are looking to pass legislation.
“The Legislative Office Building has been shut down, the Capitol is shut down for us. But we’re still here in the parking lot doing parking lot advocacy,” Gus Marks-Hamilton with the ACLU Smart Justice Campaign said.
During a normal legislative session this area would be filled with members of the public and lobbyists looking to interact with lawmakers, but because the building is still closed due to COVID those interactions aren’t happening.
“We do the best with the limitations that we have though, but of course we much rather be in the building,” Marks-Hamilton said.
“The public has continued to have access to us just as they have before by electronic means, by emailing or calling,” House Majority Leader Jason Rojas said.
Rojas said the CDC guidelines and the governor’s rules still allow businesses to set restrictions.
“Businesses throughout the state are opening back up on an honor system and I think that we know the dangers of Covid so adults are going to make the personal choice to get vaccinated or run the risk of exposing yourself,” Candelora said.
But Democrats are in the majority so there’s little Republicans can do to change their mind.
“You either believe in the science or you don’t. But for the Democrats to have talked about the science through this whole pandemic and now they want to ignore it when it doesn’t suit their needs is really not appropriate and it sends the wrong message to the general public,’ Candelora said.
“The cleaner thing is get through session and reopen the building after that,” Ritter said.