A conservative group of lawmakers wants to hold a public hearing this week to hear from workers who say they have been negatively affected by COVID-19 vaccination requirements imposed by their employers.
The hearing is tentatively scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Sept. 22, but the Office of Legislative Management still hasn’t signed off on the request as of Friday.
“This is a group of people who are frustrated and feel as though their concerns are falling on deaf ears—that they have nowhere else to turn,” Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, said. “Fortunately, simply ‘listening’ is the first requirement for anyone who signs up to serve in the General Assembly, and it’s a responsibility my colleagues and I take seriously. I look forward to the hearing and learning more about what these people have to say, and I hope other members of the legislature will join us.”
“I get at least five, six calls a day from people that are concerned that they’re being threatened with losing their job if they don’t comply with mandates,” Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, said.
Fishbein is talking about vaccine mandates.
“There’s a lot of frustration. To hear from the public that’s the intent,” Fishbein says.
Fishbein and a dozen Republicans want to hold a public hearing at the state Capitol complex, which reopened to the public in July.
The state of Connecticut is mandating that health care workers, teachers, and bus drivers get vaccinated by Sept. 27.
“I was contacted late last night by –I think it was a bus driver — who was just the latest in the people who said I refused to get vaccinated and I’m going to lose my job next week,” Fishbein says.
At least one Democratic lawmaker doesn’t think it’s a good idea.
“I’m not sure the state Capitol, and the Legislative Office Building should be used to peddle misinformation,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said Friday.
He said the venue will lend credibility to what is being discussed.
“Frankly, we’d probably be out of this COVID mess had it not been for the selfish anti-vaxers who refuse to get vaccinated,” Duff added.
Fishbein says lawmakers need to hear from these workers.
“Regardless of how you feel about what these individuals have to say, this hearing represents another important step toward restoring the essence of what everyone appreciates about the state Capitol—that it’s a place where citizens on any rung of the political spectrum share their ideas and concerns issues affecting them,” Fishbein said.
If these individuals are no longer employed it’s going to have a financial impact on the state, he said.
“If all those people are not working they’re going to be seeking unemployment benefits,” Fishbein added.
“That’s the intent of the public hearing, is to hear from those people who are being negatively impacted by all of this and seeing where we go from there,” Fishbein said.