Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers run out on Sept. 30. Now he has told lawmakers he wants them extended again. If that happens it will be the sixth time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The plan is to work with the legislature and get it extended because the pandemic’s not over and the need has not gone away,” Lamont said.
Lamont first signaled that he wanted to extend his powers last week during a discussion around rental assistance.
“I think we work very closely with landlords, very closely with judicial, very closely with legal aid, but I think Sept. 30 is too short,” Lamont said.
The legislature expects to hold a special session in September. The reasons for extending the governor’s executive powers are still unclear.
“Legislature ought to be back in session over the next few weeks,” Lamont said.
The governor’s chief of staff was unable to say exactly why they would call the legislature back into special session. He said it’s still a topic of debate between the two branches.
Republican lawmakers don’t see any reason to extend it.
“The fact that we’ve been able to deal with this for 16 months has told us we’re probably not in an emergency,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly said.
He said they can extend the rental assistance program without extending Lamont’s executive powers.
“Continuing these powers we’d be like one of the only states in the northeast,” Kelly said.
“The next state that’s still operating in these emergency powers are mostly our southern and midwestern states where they’re experiencing a different delta variant and a different result,” Kelly said.
Senate President Martin Looney said the emergency is even greater now than it was in July - the last time they extended his powers.
“The daily rate of infection is still alarming, the daily amount of positive tests, the number of people in the hospital,” Looney said.
Looney said the emergency still exists and it’s easier to have the executive branch handle these things.
“The legislature is sort of a battleship maneuvering into position while the executive is like a swift and nifty sailboat,” he said
The legislative leaders also have the power now to review and revoke any new executive orders they don’t like.
“There’s more legislative control and more legislative oversight now,” he added.
The six legislative leaders had not had to exercise their additional powers since creating them.