Legislature Extends Governor’s Emergency Powers to February 2022
The Connecticut General Assembly this week extended Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers through Feb. 15, 2022.
The House of Representatives approved the extension on an 80-60 vote Sept. 27, with 10 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting against the measure.
The state Senate voted 18-16 in favor the following day, with two Democrats voting with all Republicans in opposition.
Lamont followed the legislative votes by issuing Executive Order No. 14 (later revised in Executive Order No. 14A), which extends the duration of all or parts of 10 previous executive orders.
Among the extended orders was No. 13A, issued Aug. 5 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, that allowed cities and towns to implement mask mandates.
Most of Connecticut’s big cities mandated face masks in indoor setting regardless of vaccination status, including Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury, and Norwalk.
Lamont sought the extension of his emergency powers, calling this week’s special General Assembly session to address what he described as the “significant and unknown risks” posed by the Delta variant of the coronavirus
“The emergency declarations make possible, and therefore, should remain in place as we prepare for any possible winter surge and adjust our public health campaign to deal with this continuing emergency,” he wrote in a Sept. 22 letter to legislative leaders.
Connecticut’s daily positivity rate was 1.25% Sept. 30, with 53 deaths over the previous seven days. The state’s seven-day positivity rate now stands at 2%, the lowest in months.
The state is among the leaders in vaccinations, with 69% of the population fully vaccinated as of Oct. 1. Fifty-six percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.
Lamont also warned state agencies this week to prepare for staffing shortages after extending until Oct. 4 this week’s deadline for state employees to submit their vaccination status.
The governor has mandated that all state employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.
As of Sept. 30, more than 20,000 (63%) state workers are fully vaccinated, 4,000 (12%) began weekly testing, and about 8,000 (25%) remained non-compliant, a drop of over 2,000 over the previous two days.
Lamont also called for the Connecticut National Guard to plan for possible deployment “in the event agencies that provide critical health and safety services need assistance.”
The Lamont administration will place non-complaint state employees on unpaid leave as soon as Oct. 5, but no later than Oct. 11.
“There is no reason all our employees should not be in compliance,” Lamont said in a statement. “I continue to count on state employees to lead by example and to respect their co-workers and the public by complying with this executive order, which is the law.”
The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition, a group of unions that represents state workers, posted a statement that it “has not agreed” to the governor’s decision to put non-compliant workers on unpaid leave.
The SEBAC statement said a number of issues remain unresolved, including “whether outside of mandatory testing facilities, testing should be paid for by the state and on state time, the exact nature of the consequence for not complying with the executive order, and whether there should be a cash incentive associated with being vaccinated.”
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