HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Nearly 100 protesters rallied at the State Capitol Thursday morning to condemn Governor Ned Lamont’s executive order extension. They say it’s no longer about COVID-19. Instead, they say it’s about government control.
Many of the protesters say their freedoms are being taken away, some of them are small business owners, others are families.
Right now, 95% of Connecticut’s economy is back up and running after months-long coronavirus shutdowns this spring and summer.
Protesters signs read “Stop Lamont…Free Connecticut” and “My constitutional rights are essential.”
They are upset that Democratic lawmakers are not challenging the governor on his extension of emergency powers through February 2021. They say the restrictions are costing them their livelihoods.
Ken Ernhout is a landlord from Litchfield: “We’re hurting. We can’t pay our bills. No one is helping us.”
His tenants owe him $10,000. “This hurts our own pocketbooks, it hurts our families, it hurts us dramatically.”
“I can’t explain the significance of how horrible and horrific it has been the last seven months for my family,” Heather Grabeline told News 8.
Her family owns a home improvement company, but her focus has been on her child who has autism. She says quarantine mandates have her son’s doctors fearful of liability: “He’s allergic to the heat, to cold. I still can’t get medical exemptions from any of his providers.”
Sen. Dan Champagne (R-Vernon) said, “A lot of damage is being done across Connecticut, from businesses to people’s lives, and it’s time for the legislature to step up and be part of those decisions. Cutting the legislature out is not the way to go.”
Both Democratic and Republican leaders are, in fact, questioning the emergency extension of powers. There is still time for lawmakers to challenge that decision, but nothing has happened yet to force the governor’s hand.
A committee of 10 lawmakers can force the governor’s hand.
Late Thursday, Democratic leaders said they will now hold a special committee meeting to debate the issue Friday, but the democratically-controlled group fears canceling Gov. Lamont’s emergency powers would create chaos.
Senator Fasano (R-North Haven) released a statement Thursday afternoon in response to the Democrats agreeing to meet. He said he welcomes the opportunity to put the GOP’s concerns – and those of the ralliers – on the record and that “Republicans are not asking for the state to stop the precautions we have in place” now.
I welcome the opportunity to put our concerns about the process on the record at this meeting. Republicans are not asking for the state to stop the precautions we have in place today.
We are asking to be involved in the process as our state works to protect the public and recover from the pandemic. We should return to the process set in the early days of the pandemic in which the Governor consulted with lawmakers before issuing executive orders. There needs to be a level of review and collaboration to bring checks and balances back to government.
Connecticut’s decisions should always be driven by science, and they also should include input from the public, from advocates, from health care experts, from workers, and from the people we represent.
Connecticut Republicans care deeply about protecting the people of our state. Lawmakers should have an opportunity to work in concert with the executive branch. I welcome tomorrow’s conversation on this issue.Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven)
Governor Lamont says he’s following the science: “95% of our economy is open. 86% of our economy has recovered. I didn’t close the state, COVID did.”