Newtown Delegation Unanimously, Resoundingly Rejects Continuing Lamont’s Emergency Powers
Democratic State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, whose Second District includes several neighborhoods in western Newtown, joined GOP Newtown delegation colleagues Mitch Bolinsky (R-106), Tony Scott (R-112), and Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) voting against extending Governor Ned Lamont’s emergency powers, which are set to expire on July 20.
The Democratic majority in the General Assembly carried the day July 14, successfully passing a 44-word resolution extending Lamont’s emergency powers through September 30, making Connecticut among the last in the northeast under a COVID-19 state of emergency.
CTMirror reported following the session that concurrent debates in the House and Senate took place Wednesday in a state Capitol that reopened to the public on July 6, yet still limits access to the first floor, where lobbyists gathered in the lobby. The visitor galleries overlooking the House and Senate remained locked.
Passage came on votes of 73-56 in the House and 19-15 in the Senate, with nine House Democrats and four Senate Democrats joining the GOP minority in opposition — the strongest evidence to date of internal opposition to the Democratic governor over his powers.
“I applaud the governor and his administration for successfully navigating Connecticut through the pandemic, but the 11 orders raised as a reason for extending executive powers can and should be addressed by the legislature,” Allie-Brennan said in a prepared statement received for publication by The Newtown Bee.
“As of today, 24 states have ended their emergency declarations, including New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Some argue that an emergency declaration is necessary to continue federal funding; however, several states that have ended their emergency declarations have been given permission from the president to access those federal dollars,” the Democratic lawmaker stated.
“I was elected to be the voice of the people of the 2nd District,” Allie-Brennan added, “[and] after receiving countless constituent e-mails and phone calls in opposition to an extension, I agree it is time to turn this dark page in our history while remaining vigilant.”
One week earlier, Hwang released a statement telegraphing his intentions about the proposal.
“Following a weekend spent remembering the significance of our representative government, independent from a monarch’s control, it is incredibly ironic that the majority Democratic party is instead seeking to further abdicate their responsibility as elected representatives and allow the governor to continue to manage the state alone” Hwang said.
“This is an arrangement of convenience seeing that the legislature was somehow able, under emergency regulations, to convene and pass a tremendous amount of laws which affect the state of Connecticut far beyond the matters of public health and safety as they relate to the pandemic.”
Hwang also railed against entry restrictions that have continued at the state Capitol.
“On the subject of convenience, the Capitol — the people’s house — was only partially opened to the public after the close of the regular legislative session,” Hwang said. “This pandemic has allowed Hartford Democrats to pick and choose when to apply the risk of COVID-19.”
On one hand, Hwang said, the state is already seeing well-attended sporting events and concerts, “but on the other hand, we have closed government buildings and mask mandates for our schools. It’s high time for the majority to take a look at the numbers and start basing their policies on facts and metrics instead of whim and convenience.”
Lamont has lifted nearly all restrictions imposed under his emergency authority since March 9, 2020, with the most visible and contentious exception being a requirement for mask wearing by the unvaccinated in schools and other indoor public places.
Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have plummeted in Connecticut as the state conducted one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the US, but the administration noted that the positivity rate in COVID-19 tests reached 1.28% on Wednesday, the highest since May 25 and the first time exceeding 1% since June 1.
The governor sought the extension to continue 11 of the 300 emergency orders in effect at the height of the pandemic, most of which Lamont sees as ministerial measures allowing flexibility in purchasing, qualifying for federal funds, and standing up vaccination clinics.
“These orders are still needed to protect the public and continue critical measures to provide health care access and economic relief and respond to evolving changes,” Lamont said in a message to lawmakers. “They are also narrowly targeted to achieve specific goals that would otherwise be unachievable because of statutory or regulatory barriers that were not contemplated in the context of a highly transmissible and long-lasting disease outbreak when the statutes were passed.”
CTMirror content was used in this report.
Editor John Voket can be reached at email@example.com.