State lawmakers voted Wednesday to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s powers until the end of September.
The vote in both the House and the Senate was based on how lawmakers felt about the pandemic, not along party lines.
“Quite honestly I find it offensive -- almost it’s an abuse of power,” Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, said.
The Senate and the House approved the measure but nine Democrats in the House and four in the Senate joined Republicans in voting against it.
“There’s a big difference in asking for an extension for six months and asking for an extension for two months, especially when the state of Connecticut's open,” Max Reiss, Lamont’s spokesman, said.
Reiss defended the request.
“What we’re down to right now is how to manage a pandemic response,” Reiss said.
“I really appreciate the legislature giving me a little bit of discretion so we can respond quickly if we have to if this Delta variant gets more dangerous," Lamont added.
Democratic lawmakers said that’s why they want to extend Lamont's powers for Covid-19 and federal funding.
“We just want to make sure the governor has between now and September all the tools at his disposal to make sure we can handle anything that comes up,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.
“If he does an executive order we don’t like, legislative leaders can veto it. We changed the law to require that,” Ritter said.
Senate Republicans disagreed.
“These powers were not created for this scenario. They were created for emergent conditions where civil preparedness is needed,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly said.
The governor requested the extension of his power so the state doesn’t lose federal funding for housing and food stamps.
“Just because you have a public declaration does not necessarily mean we have to have executive orders,” Kelly said.
Kelly added that there is a difference between a governor operating under executive orders and an extension of his powers.
“We need to have the ability for the governor to act swiftly,” Ritter said.