Here to Serve and Ready to Work
By State Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco
With the declaration of a national and state emergency due to the Coronavirus, the State Legislature has been recessed since March 12th with all pending legislation put on hold and maybe never taken up in 2020. According to the Connecticut state constitution the General Assembly will adjourn for the session on May 6th. The governor signed the Declaration of Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergencies on March 10th and that declaration gives Gov. Lamont broad sweeping powers to make the decisions normally left to the General Assembly. The decisions being made regarding the public health and public safety of state residents and businesses are being made through executive orders.
On March 20th the governor issued an executive order to close all “non-essential” businesses and to have all “non-essential” employees stay home. An essential business, by definition, is one that society cannot operate without and, those essential businesses were outlined by the Department of Economic and Community Development. However, the decision to deem what businesses are essential and non-essential is ultimately left up to the governor. This type of policy only picks winners and losers and gives preferential treatment to a select few. Every small business is essential and the people who work and depend on their paychecks for food, clothing, shelter and means to provide for their family are also essential. In these uncertain times, we must continue to follow the advice of health experts and do all we can to protect lives and offer guidance, but we must also protect people’s livelihood because if businesses can’t survive people can’t survive.
The economic cost of this pandemic on the state is unknown but will be great. Many businesses may face years of struggle, many more may never open their doors again and, many citizens will be left without a job. How will state government react, will some taxpayers be forced to pay higher taxes, will the state finally prioritize its spending? On April 13, the governor launched a business and health advisory group to assist in re-opening the state post-COVID-19 but none of the names in this new group were duly elected to represent Connecticut citizens in any capacity. Who are these people accountable to? I am very uncomfortable having unelected members of the public do the job we the legislature should be doing in Hartford. The legislature and local business leaders need to be in the room and have an equal voice in the decision-making process, I, along with my colleagues were elected to represent you and your interests at the State Capitol.
Although, the General Assembly is in this so-called permanent recess, I continue my role as the State Representative for the 80th Assembly District, ready to work for you and do anything possible to assist my constituents and businesses during this difficult time. I am fielding calls and emails from you daily and trying to get you answers from the administration on some of the executive orders that have been signed by the governor.
On Memorial Day (May 25th) as we honor and remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, let us reflect on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today.
As always, please contact me should you have any questions about the coronavirus or concerns on any other issues relating to state government at Gale.Mastrofrancesco@housegop.ct.gov or at (800) 842-1423.