HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont is asking the state legislature to continue Connecticut’s pandemic emergency declarations so the federal funding continues to flow.
He is also asking for lawmakers to vote on limited COVID-related executive orders, all as the start of the 2022 legislative session approaches.
Operating under a protracted pandemic is unchartered territory.
“We are the only institution in the state of Connecticut that still remains closed since March 2020,” said State Representative and Republican House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora.
On Friday, the governor sent an 11-page letter to lawmakers, notifying them his powers to declare a continued state of emergency expires on Feb. 15, along with executive orders like the mask mandate.
Lamont is asking lawmakers “to proclaim a continuation of the public health and civil preparedness emergencies” and to vote on the executive orders and make them law.
“I do need them to affirmatively give thumbs up or thumbs down or this is how I would adjust it,” Lamont said.
Meanwhile, the legislature opens for business in less than three weeks.
State Sen. Kevin Kelly, the Republican Senate Minority Leader, acknowledged the legislature needs to be mindful.
“We are in a pandemic, but we also need to be mindful this is the people’s government, it’s not government’s government and the people have a right to be present,” Kelly said.
Democratic House Speaker State Rep. Matt Ritter agreed.
“If you can go to the UConn game, I went… we should be able to come to the Capitol and testify,” Ritter said.
How that works is still up for debate. Leaders are looking to use a hybrid model. In-person meetings with masks and vaccination requirements or proof of a negative test and virtual meetings.
“There’s no place to congregate virtually and we’ve lost that the last few years,” Kelly added.
However, there is a reluctance to open the complex to everyone. Of concern — any new COVID twists.
State Sen. Martin Looney, the Democratic President of the Senate, is concerned.
“If we were to have a large-scale quarantine or shut down, that really would throw us off the rails.”
The legislative session begins Feb. 9. When these executive orders will be voted on and how the emergency declaration will be handled remains unclear.