Lamont to seek emergency order extension

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont is preparing to ask the legislature to extend Connecticut’s state of emergency due to COVID-19 beyond July 20.

Lamont said June 30 that he continues to be wary of the ongoing coronavirus threat even amid the state’s plummeting infection, hospitalization and death rates.

The General Assembly in May voted to extend the public health and civil preparedness emergencies that the governor first declared in early March 2020 for two more months to July 20.

“I think we’re going to ask the legislature for a little more time,” Lamont told reporters.

He did not say how much of an extension he has in mind, but he indicated the duration and scope of the declarations will be limited.

The public health and civil preparedness emergency statutes grant a governor the authority to set rules and modify or suspend state laws, regulations and requirements for up to six months.

Lamont said he remains concerned about outbreaks flaring up and the emergence of variants so retaining emergency powers will allow his administration to rapidly respond to changing developments and emerging public health threats.

He again singled out the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in Connecticut in mid-May. There were 43 identified cases through June 24.

Lamont said extensions of the current emergency declarations are also needed to continue to qualify for federal pandemic assistance, including funding and other resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In May, Lamont signed legislation into law that temporarily gives the legislature greater oversight of his emergency powers during the continuing COVID-19 outbreak.

The revisions to the public health and civil preparedness emergency statutes permit the full General Assembly to reject an emergency declaration through March 2022, and a bipartisan committee of legislative leaders can veto any emergency order that Lamont issues.

The legislation limited renewals of emergency declarations to 60 days if the legislature is meeting in regular session, or 180 days otherwise.

The House and Senate must both approve a renewal of an emergency declaration within three days of the governor’s filing the declaration with the secretary of the state’s office. If not, a declaration is deemed ineffective.

Also, a bipartisan, select committee of eight of top House and Senate leaders is empowered to reject any emergency order that Lamont issues pursuant to an approved declaration. The committee has 36 hours to act after an order is issued.