Senator Rob Sampson and Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco provided comments following the Governor’s latest Executive Order “empowering” towns to implement their own, individual mask mandates.
“Today’s executive order is a mechanism to allow the Governor
to pass the buck to town leaders. It basically states that Gov. Lamont will
look the other way while towns choose to break the law. While we support
more local decision making, this Executive Order is improper and implies local
leaders have authority that they do not lawfully possess.
“The press release claims that he is enabling town leaders to
enact mask mandates. In truth, his Executive Order merely says that he will
choose not to nullify their actions if they initiate a broader mask mandate,
despite exceeding their legal authority to do so.
“This is especially confusing given the questionable power of
any government authority to mandate mask wearing. Our position has been
that the Governor of Connecticut never had such authority, but there is no
question that municipal CEOs most certainly do not have authority either.
“Further, as we pointed out in the most recent debate in the
House and Senate on extending the Governor’s emergency authority, there is no
current emergency relative to the Coronavirus. We are fully aware of the
existence of the Delta variant and the increase in positive test results; however,
the data provided by the executive branch does not support continued emergency
authority or actions.
“Hospitalizations and deaths have dropped so significantly
that the Governor’s office now reports the statistics on a weekly basis only,
instead highlighting the important – but much less relevant to public health –
positivity rate. In yesterday’s report, there were only three deaths in the
most recent week. We are certainly sympathetic to the individual circumstances,
but three deaths, in a state of 3.5 million people, hardly constitute a state
of emergency. Particularly, when the administration is ignoring the
rampant increase in murders and criminal activity across our state. That
is the true emergency that should be addressed.
“Town leaders throughout the state must understand that they
do not have the authority to mandate mask wearing. We live in a free society,
and each of us is entitled to undertake our own fact and science-based research
to make informed decisions on whether to get vaccinated or wear masks.
“It is not our job as a government to protect citizens from
every risk they may incur when leaving their homes, and it’s certainly not
right for Governor Lamont to put pressure on municipal leaders to improperly
interfere in the personal health and safety decisions of free citizens.”