HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney on Wednesday left open the possibility the governor's emergency powers may be extended under narrow circumstances as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The Democratic governor's civil preparedness and public health emergency declarations, which have been extended multiple times since March 2020, are set to expire Feb. 15.
“I think there’s a narrow group of things, going forward, where it would be helpful for us to have a little agility to be able to move fast,” said Lamont, referring to tasks such as having to quickly purchase hard-to-get test kits.
Meanwhile, the governor said, his chief legal counsel is preparing a list of roughly 10 to 12 of the remaining COVID-related executive orders that state legislators should consider extending.
“I’d like to think the legislature will have the opportunity to vote on them or otherwise,” Lamont said.
Looney, also a Democrat, said he can foresee the General Assembly taking up some COVID-related matters and the governor handling more immediate ones. Legislators return to the Capitol on Feb. 9.
“I agree with the governor that there may be certain areas where it is absolutely essential to enable a quick response in crisis that only the executive can do by issuing an executive order pursuant to emergency powers,” Looney said. “There are other areas where I think the legislature can appropriately enact statutes.”
Republican lawmakers, the minority party in the General Assembly, have been critical about the emergency declarations still remaining in place, arguing the legislators, not just the governor, should be making many of the remaining COVID-related decisions at this point in the pandemic.
“The Connecticut legislature has been relegated to sit at the ‘Baby Table’ for far too long," said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, in a statement. “We are the voice of the people. Our voice must be heard.”