Lawmakers Bicker Over Reopening State Capitol

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The state Capitol has been closed since March 11. The decision to keep the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building closed to the public is becoming a point of contention between the two political parties as they contemplate an agenda for a September special session. 

“Why can’t we have meetings of 20 or 30 or 10 people in the building and have people come in and testify. Take their temperatures, have them wear a mask, have them go up to the microphone. Wipe it all down. Why can't we do that? Why can’t we be in the building doing the people's business?” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said.

Fasano said there’s no reason that Connecticut can’t reopen the Capitol and Legislative Office Building for public hearings. He said the only reason to keep the building closed is politics. 

“it’s easier to move business in the dark through Zoom meetings where you really don’t have an advantage of a public hearing and you don’t hear people’s voices but you go through the motions as if you did,” Fasano said. 

Senate President Martin Looney said the only reason to reopen the building is partisan. 

“They’re trying to raise an issue here as if there was something not going forward that the legislature should be doing. We reject that entirely. It is a predictable partisan move,” Looney said. 

Looney said the Republicans are complaining about a process issue that doesn’t exist. 

“I think that we are being prudent because there’s still an ongoing pandemic here which the Republicans in many parts of the country and some in Connecticut seem to be willing to ignore or downplay to the peril of everyone,” Looney said. 

He said the information the public needs to get to lawmakers gets there one way or another. 

“I think all of the relevant information ultimately gets communicated."

Looney was unable to say whether the Capitol would reopen in time for the 2021 legislative session, which starts in January. 

Lawmakers however do plan to return to this building for a special session later this month. The agenda for that session has yet to be determined. 

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