Lawmakers adapting as Capitol Complex closure extended to April 23 amid coronavirus pandemic

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Democratic and Republican state leaders announced legislative business, including committee meetings and public hearings, will now be postponed until April 23, 2020. The legislature has been shuttered amid COVID19 concerns.

“We went from 100 to zero immediately, ” said Deputy House Minority Leader Vin Candelora and owner of SportsPlex.

The part-time lawmaker owns Sportsplex in North Branford, a sports complex where the public can go to play baseball, soccer, football, and other recreational sports. An estimated $6 million in tourism to the region is now lost due to the pandemic, and his workers have been laid off for the duration.

But despite those realities and the state capitol being closed, Candelora says he’s busier than ever with meeting via the internet.

“A lot of phone calls a lot of emails and Facebook is a great vehicle,” he explained.

Many lawmakers are staying in touch using Facebook and Instagram for frequently asked questions.

State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) added, “…non-stop zoom meetings questions on Instagram answer questions over Twitter, Facebook telephone town halls…you name it. If it’s not an in-person meeting, I’m trying to figure out a way to connect.”

State Senator Haskell says daily caucus conference calls reveal constituents are turning to government for answers. He says even though lawmakers are working from home, they are working overtime to make sure the community does weather the crisis.

Despite the Capitol being closed and cleaned, state leaders are continuing the people’s business with Governor Ned Lamont.

State Representative Themis Klarides, the Republican House Minority Leader explained, “We want him [the Governor] to be able to do anything he can do by executive order.”

Senators Murphy and Blumenthal are back in Connecticut while Congress is in recess in D.C. Wearing a mask and gloves, Blumenthal recently visited a biotech firm. And both Connecticut Senators went to Americares for a socially distanced press conference two weeks ago.

State Representative Candelora admitted the legislature “certainly can go into special session. The focus now is getting through this virus and getting people back to work.”

All agree, anything that divided them yesterday suddenly has faded away. It’s more important, they say, to lead in a crisis.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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