A day after the Connecticut Supreme Court validated Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive powers during the pandemic, the state Senate voted to endorse and extend those powers another 30 days.
“The general assembly is a deliberative body that is not set up to act with the speed that the executive can act in the course of an emergency,” Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven) said.
That’s why the Senate joined the House in passing a bill to extend the governor’s executive powers until May 20. The bill passed 24-10 along party lines.
“It is a sort of belt and suspenders proposal to make sure we are now providing a degree of acknowledgement of the correctness of the governor’s actions,” Looney said.
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In a 30-page opinion, the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that the emergency powers and the governor's orders were constitutional.
Republicans objected to the extension.
“I don’t think there’s a reason to extend this authority, this long, at this time,” Sen. Craig Miner (R-Litchfield) said.
Miner said Republicans worked closely with the administration at the beginning of the pandemic but that has faded.
He says he doesn’t believe the administration intended to abuse its power but the legislature is in session and they need to be part of the conversation.
“We closed certain businesses down because we felt with the information we had warranted that,” Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-District 8) said.
Witkos says there were times he agreed with the administration and times he didn’t.
“There’s some I’m sure that we need to modify and still move forward and there are others that probably need to be eliminated, but to do that there needs to be a conversation,” Sen. Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) says.
Republican lawmakers have yet to sit down with Democratic lawmakers and review the more than 90 executive orders. Democrats say they want more time to decide which ones to extend, keep or discard.
“Let us get back to work. Give us the opportunity to get back to work. We are a co-equal branch of government,” Formica says.
The House passed the extension last week with a party-line vote. The bill now heads to Lamont’s desk. Lamont is expected to sign it.
“I want to thank the members of the Connecticut General Assembly for voting to ratify and extend the state of emergency. This step is critical to ensuring our vaccine and testing programs remain nimble and accessible to all of our residents, and we can continue to provide needed support for everyone in Connecticut as we work to get back to normal as quickly as possible. I take these powers seriously, and will continue to consult with legislative leadership and use this authority in a judicious fashion," the governor said in a statement.