The Senate gave final passage Wednesday to a bill that will extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s pandemic-related emergency authority until July 20. The bill passed 24-12 along party lines. It would allow Lamont to continue to exercise emergency authority to enforce a shrinking number of COVID-related executive orders beyond the May 20 deadline.
Republicans questioned the need to extend Lamont’s executive powers when the state is opening back up.
“We didn’t elect a king,” Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said.
He said the legislature is back in session and there’s no need to extend Lamont’s powers.
“By not allowing the governor to continue in this manner, it doesn’t tie his hands,” Kissel said.
Senate President Martin Looney says he doesn’t agree with the Republican premise about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we still are in a dangerous pandemic,” Looney said.
He said his constituents are reluctant to see “the broad scale reopening that’s going to happen next week.”
He said there are things the executive branch can do swiftly that the legislative branch cannot.
“There are certain things that can only be done by the executive,” Looney said. “We are a deliberative body. The executive can respond to quickly developing facts.”
Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said reasonable minds can look at the same set of facts and come to different conclusions.
“We’re in a drastically different place than we were in March of 2020,” Kelly said. “While the legislature is a deliberative body we are now 15 months down the road, with 15 months of experience and the fact remains that the people’s voice, the legislature, needs to be part of the process. Our government is not wired for one person rule.”
He said passage of a telehealth bill is proof that the legislature can do its job and codify an executive order.
Looney said the governor has not abused his power and the Republican Party has not challenged any specific executive order. The Supreme Court upheld the governor’s ability to to exercise those powers.