Capitol Report: Gov. Lamont loosening COVID restrictions; Fairfield County special election; Payroll tax for paid family leave

Capitol Report

With COVID vaccinations underway, and a decline in positivity rate and hospitalizations, Governor Ned Lamont decided it is time to loosen COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurants will operate at full capacity. Rules will be loosened for retailers, sports, and entertainment. And the state travel ban will be GONE. Mask mandates, however, will remain in place along with social distancing.

The governor remains bullish on masks and distancing, reminding everyone that “This is not Texas or Mississippi.” Despite that, doctors are not onboard with loosening restrictions because of concerns about dangerous COVID variants that continue to spread.

Approaching a full year of the pandemic, one takeaway from all of this is that we’ve witnessed a governor who hasn’t been afraid to take the wheel and lead Connecticut through some very dark days.

Want proof? His approval rating has grown to nearly 56%, and according to a new Sacred Heart University poll, nearly 74% approve of how he’s handled the pandemic.

The Sacred Heart poll also finds Connecticut voters are on board with legalizing recreational marijuana. Over 64% either strongly or somewhat support it.

Negotiations to bring sports betting and I-gaming to Connecticut took an interesting turn last week. Governor Lamont made a deal with Mohegan Sun and CT Lottery to run it, leaving Foxwoods on the sideline. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler wasn’t pleased how the gov. rolled this out to the public. He told News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina that talks continue over the issue of taxing of I-gaming revenue.

In case you missed it, there was a special election in Fairfield County’s 27th State Senate District. The district covering parts of Stamford and Darien flipped from red to blue.

Democrat Patricia Billie Miller won a close race. The newly sworn-in senator joined Capitol Report from Stamford to talk more about her new position.

Let’s go for a ride in the Capitol Report time machine! Today, we head back to June 2019, and the governor signing the paid family and medical leave bill.

At the start of 2021, a new payroll tax went into effect to cover the costs. But, there’s a problem. Two months into the year and the state has not been collecting from “qualified state employees.” And many businesses aren’t collecting yet either.

House minority leader Vin Candelora made the discovery last week. He wasn’t thrilled with the Lamont administration about it.

Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s Communications Director Tyler Van Buren told the Hartford Courant, “We’re grateful for the legislators who have brought this issue forward and share their commitment
to making sure this critical program is successful as it will benefit thousands of workers throughout the state.”

Anglers rejoice! Fishing season is starting early this year. Gov. Lamont signed an executive order opening all inland waters starting now, in an effort to reduce crowds come April.

Did you know the nation’s only museum dedicated to the preservation of shad fishing history is in Haddam? The shad is Connecticut’s state fish.

We spoke with retired dentist and shad enthusiast Joseph Zaientz who says he is ready to re-open his museum in early April.

And while you may not see shad on many menus, Joe tells us shad is good eatin‘.

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