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House & Senate GOP Leaders Oppose Extension of Governor’s Emergency Powers

Posted on January 26, 2021


HARTFORD — House and Senate Republican leaders Vincent Candelora and Kevin Kelly on Tuesday rejected the idea of extending the governor’s broad-based emergency powers to April 20, and said they are disappointed that legislative Democrats balked when presented with an opportunity to reassert the General Assembly as a co-equal branch of government.

“At this point in the pandemic, it is not unreasonable to ask for certain modifications to the exercise of the Governor’s authority. Businesses should be provided more time to adjust to government’s ever-changing restrictions, and government should respect people’s right to exercise their religion again,” said Candelora (R-86.) “Democrats have instead settled for the convenience of letting the governor struggle toward a recovery while they quietly work toward implementing a shockingly progressive agenda that will ultimately make his job even harder. It’s sad that we spent so much energy to create joint rules that have allowed the legislature to take flight despite the pandemic only to see our colleagues shirk our shared responsibility. Now, we’re simply an afterthought rather than partners in governing.”

Candelora and Kelly late Monday afternoon wrote to Democrat leaders to share conditions that could see them sign off on a short-term extension designed to give lawmakers and the governor time to decide which of his previous pandemic-related executive orders should remain in place.

“We are in the midst of a legislative session. Republicans want people’s voices to be heard,” said Kelly (R-21.) “Let the people’s voices be represented by those they sent to the State Capitol to be their voice. The pandemic impacts all of us. Yet legislative Democrats don’t want to have a voice? Why did these Democrat lawmakers run for office? Let’s manage our way out of the crisis deliberately, thoughtfully, and safely. This is an opportunity for the legislature to do its job. We have an opportunity to seize this moment and empower the people. Republican lawmakers are simply saying: Let’s do the jobs that the people elected us to do.”

Candelora and Kelly offered the following framework to the governor and Democrats:

  • Extend the powers until March 1, provided the Governor articulates a persuasive metric-based case for the extension and any particular executive orders he deems necessary; Meanwhile, legislative leaders and the executive branch would discuss which orders to codify through a full vote of the legislature by submitting them to the committees of cognizance for public hearing;
  • Any future declarations would be limited to no more than 30 days, and extensions can only occur through a vote of the full legislature;
  • Any modification to sector rules for businesses must include no less than 10 days’ notice before becoming effective, unless an emergency exists, in which case the basis for said emergency must be stated in the modification;

Lift the capacity limit (100) on places of worship provided social distancing protocols are followed.

Read the full letter from Candelora and Kelly here.

“It would be an understatement to say that we’re disappointed about how Democrats have handled this issue, but not nearly as disappointed as an employer who presses his or her representative or senator for help navigating the governor’s business restrictions only to have that elected ‘leader’ simply tell the employer his or her hands have been tied by an executive order,” Candelora and Kelly said. “This is our chance to reaffirm the role of the legislature—to at least have a dialogue, similar to other states, about addressing the concerns of frustrated employers and residents who fear the governor has grown far too comfortable calling the shots. Their announcement epitomizes the arrogance of one-party rule.”

The Republican leaders await news on whether Democrats will simply let the governor’s extension become effective without holding vote through a special committee of 10 legislators.