(Updated) Gov. Ned Lamont sent a letter to legislative leaders Friday asking them to extend the public health and civil preparedness orders which would leave him with emergency powers headed into his reelection bid.
“There are compelling reasons to continue the emergency declarations because as the past few weeks have shown, we are still in a state of emergency. The nature of this virus is such that conditions change rapidly, with the resulting need to have the tools in place to respond quickly to an ongoing public health threat,” Lamont wrote.
The 11-page letter also asks lawmakers to codify 11 executive orders, such as the school mask mandate and one that allows retired teachers to return to the classroom.
“I am cautiously optimistic that we have seen the peak of omicron COVID-19 infections,” Lamont wrote. “There has been a steady decline over the past week in the number of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 and the decline follows trends that public health experts have seen with the omicron variant in South Africa and Great Britain. But, while hospitalizations are trending downward, they remain very high and rising nursing home cases continue to pose a challenge. There remains a need to maintain the limited number of executive orders that we have successfully used to respond to both the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19.”
Lamont also wants to continue the executive orders that require long-term care facility and state hospital workers to receive a booster by Feb. 11.
“These orders protect the elderly and vulnerable by requiring that their care takers be vaccinated. They also strengthen the state’s healthcare infrastructure because individuals who have received a booster vaccine are less likely to get infected and are therefore able to continue to provide healthcare services,” Lamont wrote.
He also wants to continue executive orders that waive licensing requirements for health care workers.
“The waived requirements allow eligible healthcare workers to safely work in a temporary and supervised status. The orders increase the number of available temporary nurse aids, respiratory care practitioners, registered nurses, clinical nurse specialists, and other healthcare workers,” he wrote.
The legislature reconvenes on Feb. 9 and is expected to begin debate on extension of the 11 executive orders, but they won’t have much time. The deadline for proposed legislation is Feb. 10.
Legislative leaders were not immediately available for comment Friday night. But Sen. John Kissel weighed in.
“To wait until a Friday evening to let these impactful intentions be known speaks for itself,” Kissel said. “As the voice of the people of north-central Connecticut, I continue to note that the Connecticut legislature has been relegated to sit at the ‘Baby Table’ for far too long. While the governor’s Friday evening notes are welcome, my answer to his request is still a strong ‘no.’ I appeal to Democrat lawmakers to join me in rejecting this powers extension attempt. We owe that to the people we serve. Enough. We must get back to being the people’s voice.”