By Paul Hughes, Republican-American
GOP leaders push back on continuing declarations through Feb. 9, 2021
HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday extended the COVID-19 state of emergency in Connecticut while House and Senate Republicans pushed to increase legislative oversight of his emergency powers.
The governor’s move came a day after he announced his intention to continue the declarations of public health and civil preparedness emergencies that were due to expire Sept. 9.
Lamont said it is necessary to continue the joint state of emergency through Feb. 9, 2021, because the coronavirus remains a public health threat.
There have been approximately 53,000 cases, 11,000 hospitalizations and 4,470 deaths in Connecticut during the viral outbreak.
The governor’s announcement came after House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, and Senate Minority Leader Leonard A. Fasano, R-North Haven, released a letter to Lamont and Democratic majority leaders expressing grave GOP concerns about the planned extensions.
Lamont issued a joint declaration of civil preparedness and public health emergencies March 10 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.
THE TWO REPUBLICAN LEADERS urged that select committees of top legislators meet to review and possibly reject the new declarations as authorized in state statutes.
Fasano and Klarides also asked Lamont to grant the legislative committees authority to approve or reject his executive orders within 72 hours of being issued because his declarations allow him to modify state laws.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said the Democratic leadership is examining the implications of continuing the two states of emergency, and no decisions have been made regarding convening the select committees.
“There are some more discussions to be had at this point,” he said.
State law authorizes a select committee of the six top caucus leaders to nullify a declaration of a civil preparedness emergency within 72 hours. It also gives the same authority over a declaration of a public health emergency to a select committee of the six top leaders, plus the four House and Senate leaders of the Public Health Committee.
If the legislature wants to limit the governor’s emergency authorities, lawmakers can rewrite the statutes on emergency declarations or pass other legislation, said Max Reiss, Lamont’s director of communications.
He defended Lamont’s use of his emergency powers and his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Gov. Lamont is going to continue his judicious and thoughtful approach to the use of his executive authority,” Reiss said. “He has been thoughtful and deliberate every step of the way, and that approach has proven remarkably successful, as Connecticut remains a national model for how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
THE RANKING SENATE REPUBLICAN on the Government Elections and Administration Committee objected to any extension of Lamont’s emergency power and criticized the stance of GOP leaders.
“It is shocking that the governor and legislative Democrats — not to mention most of the news media in our state — can pretend this makes any sense at all,” said Sen. Robert Sampson, R-16th District.
The Wolcott lawmaker said he is disappointed Fasano and Klarides are not flatly opposing the extension of the two emergency declarations.
Sampson and a group of business owners are suing Lamont in Superior Court over an emergency order that shut down nonessential businesses.
The Attorney General’s Office has moved to dismiss the case.
It is one of several state and federal lawsuits that are contesting the governor’s emergency powers and orders.
THE STATES OF ALASKA and Montana were added to a tri-state travel advisory that requires visitors from states with high rates of COVID-19 to quarantine upon arrival in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
There are now 28 states subject to the travel quarantine directive, plus the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
No states were dropped from the watch list this week. It is updated every Tuesday.
In June, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey imposed a tri-state travel advisory. It applies to travelers from states that either have a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a positivity rate higher than 10% over a rolling seven-day average.
The advisory generally directs travelers from listed states to self-quarantine for 14 days, including returning state residents. It excludes visitors remaining in Connecticut for less than 24 hours. There also is an exemption for anyone who has tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of traveling.
AN ADDITIONAL 127 CASES of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday out of 19,425 test results that were received since Monday.
The state Department of Public Health reported one virus-related death to bring the total to 4,466. The first death was announced March 18.
There also was a net increase of four patients hospitalized with COVID-19 for a total of 56 statewide.
THE NAUGATUCK VALLEY HEALTH DISTRICT reported Monday there had been 419 confirmed coronavirus cases in Naugatuck and 59 in Beacon Falls. There had been 37 confirmed deaths associated with coronavirus and four probable deaths in Naugatuck, according to the health district, and none in Beacon Falls.
The Chesprocott Health District reported Aug. 28 there had been 84 cases in Prospect and no coronavirus-related deaths in town.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to their report.