Posted on April 27, 2021
Hartford – On Monday afternoon the House of Representatives convened to act on several pieces of legislation. Notably, State Rep. Billy Buckbee (R-New Milford) spoke in favor and supported a bill establishing a commission to study the various impacts of the pandemic. The commission has been specifically charged with determining how COVID-19 affected different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
“Creating the Commission on the Disparate Impact of COVID-19 is an important start to get an understanding of what the pandemic has meant to so many different individuals. We’ve all observed how this horrible virus has ravaged the economy and taken a toll on each one of us. The commission’s findings and recommendations will help guide the legislature to equitably address pandemic-related issues,” explained Buckbee.
During debate of the bill, Buckbee discussed its merits but also voiced concern that the commission was weighted too heavily toward one side of the political aisle. Consequently, an amendment was offered and approved regarding the membership of the commission, which was limited to purely legislative participation. In the spirit of bipartisanship, all four caucus leaders will have a certain number of appointments. The amendment also addressed any fiscal concerns of the bill by requiring the commission to operate within available appropriations.
“We have been looking at issues, such as the digital divide, well before the pandemic hit our shores. It’s an unfortunate reality that those studies were shelved during the COVID outbreak,” Buckbee said. “We have a lot of digging out to do and I am hopeful that the commission’s recommendations will funnel resources to the most impacted individuals and communities.”
Should the Senate take concurring action with the House, the commission will report its findings and recommendations to the legislature by January of 2022. The recommendations will focus on the genesis of any identified disparities and create policy initiatives to address them. The bill was approved unanimously and is expected to hit the Senate Floor in the coming weeks.