The House voted Thursday afternoon, mostly along party lines, to extend the public health and civil preparedness emergencies that have allowed the state to maintain a $30 million monthly boost in federal reimbursements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The resolution transferred authority of those declarations from the executive branch to the legislature and extended them until June 30. As he explained the change, Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, said the governor would derive no power from the vote.
“This is solely by its terms a legislative declaration pursuant to our constitutional power under Article 3 and from that flows no authority to the executive,” D’Agostino said.
It’s a step Republican lawmakers have sought for months but they voted as a bloc against it Thursday along with three Democrats, Reps. Raghib Allie-Brennan of Bethel, Jill Barry of Glastonbury, and Pat Boyd of Pomfret. It passed on an 89 to 56 vote. Many Republicans told the chamber they believed the emergency was over.
“It seems to me that this is never going to end. It seems to me this state will get back to normal when the money runs out, when the federal government stops giving states money,” Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, said. “I assure you when that day comes, you see how fast all of this ends.”
During the debate, Human Service Committee chair, Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, seemed exasperated. She said the declarations amounted to an extra $95 monthly for families on food stamps.
“I’m a little confused. Is it just the wording? ‘Continuation of public health?’ or we really don’t want to support our families who are in desperate need of these dollars?” Abercrombie said.
House lawmakers expected to reconvene later Thursday to debate and eventually vote on a handful of ongoing COVID-19 management policies including controversial orders maintaining state oversight of school masking requirements and vaccine mandates for Connecticut nursing home workers.