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Candelora OpEd: CT’s executive orders become ‘democracy in the dark’

Posted on February 3, 2021

Gov. Ned Lamont on Jan. 26 extended his authority to unilaterally run the State of Connecticut, enacting sweeping executive orders through April 20. One day earlier, Republicans offered to consider this request with some caveats. Despite what you may have heard, none of those caveats included mask orders or a refusal to extend his powers.

Republicans, in contrast, offered to approve an extension until March 1 in exchange for future declarations to be no longer than 30-day increments and voted on by the legislature. We also proposed a 10-day warning for businesses before sector rule changes can be made, unless an emergency dictates a shorter time frame. In addition, we called for lifting the capacity limits for houses of worship while maintaining mask and social distancing guidelines.

The original extension in September to Feb. 9 was in part to provide legislators an opportunity to open the regular session and begin the process of asserting itself as a co-equal branch. Sadly, Democrats have squandered that opportunity. What will be their position when the orders are extended again in April? They have turned their back on our reasonable requests to help move our government back to some level of accountability and normalcy. Gov. Lamont can now continue to spend billions of federal dollars with no legislative oversight and make laws that we were elected to craft. It is simply democracy in the dark.

Our focus should be on working together, reviewing how effective certain orders have been and codifying those that have been the most useful. In other words, make laws and do our job. Gov. Lamont has received high marks during the pandemic and a review of his executive orders may demonstrate a judicious use of that power. But the Constitution created three branches of government and Democrat legislators have been happy to sit on the sidelines. History and voters will judge this period of unfettered control, but Democrat leaders in the legislature do a grave disservice to the State of Connecticut for denying this public debate over how we should move forward. All we asked for was greater scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

Democrats, ceding once again our collective constitutional responsibility conveniently to one office on the second floor of the Capitol, is not acceptable. And it should not be to anyone who claims a stake in the future of our state, especially legislators who have been elected to govern and make laws.