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State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco Op-ed: Executive Orders Challenged

Posted on July 1, 2020 by jdooley


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We are on the fourth month of the COVID-19 state-ordered shutdown by our governor and he has slowly begun to reopen the state.

Some of the byproduct of the governor having so much power under the executive order which lasts until September 9, is that some of our protected rights as individuals have been stripped away and we are being forced to go to the federal government or federal courts to get some of those rights back. In the last week, two separate federal court rulings have rolled back portions of the governor’s executive orders, saying they have gone too far in restricting the rights of Connecticut citizens.

The first court decision challenged Governor Lamont’s pandemic emergency order that effectively halted the collection and processing of fingerprints necessary to obtain a gun permit in Connecticut. The suit was filed on behalf of the CCDL (CT Citizens Defense League). Many of us, myself included who believe in our constitutional right to bear arms were appalled by the governor’s initial executive order and saw a constitutional infringement on the Second Amendment The lawsuit was a victory for CCDL and law abiding citizens in Connecticut when the federal court overturned Gov Lamont’s executive order. The judge ruled that eliminating fingerprinting is not a necessary act to protect us from the coronavirus and ordered the state to resume fingerprinting by June 15th.

Additionally, the Federal Office of Civil Rights said Connecticut’s guidance put out by the Lamont administration regarding hospital visitation for people with disabilities violated the Federal Americans with disabilities act. The complaint to the federal agency was filed after families were told by the state, that only support people for individuals receiving services from the state Department of Developmental Services could see their family members. This left thousands of people with disabilities unable to be have a support person with them. Without the support some people with disabilities were being denied equal access to medical treatment, effective communication, and ability to make informed decisions.

Just recently additional lawsuits have been filed challenging governor Lamont’s executive orders.

  • Property owners filed a federal lawsuit against the governor for his executive order that allows tenants to delay paying their rent and protects them from eviction during the pandemic. The executive order also allows a tenant who has a security deposit of more than one month’s rent to apply part of the excess to April, May or June rent thus forcing the landlord to relinquish a portion of their legally retained security deposit.
  • Another group filed a lawsuit to block Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s plan to change the criteria for allowing absentee ballot voting due to fear of Covid-19. The Connecticut’ state constitution is clearly written and specifies that absentee ballots may be used in an election by a registered voter who is unable to get to their polling place because they are away from home on election Day, are in the armed services, or because sickness, disability or religious issues that prevent them from going to the polls on election day.
  • Five business owners filed a lawsuit which stated the governor violated the State and U.S. Constitutions when he declared certain businesses as essential or nonessential which ultimately harmed their businesses.

It is certainly understandable that some executive orders are necessary during a pandemic but when executive orders infringe on the constitutional rights of our citizens it is incumbent upon us to ask questions and at times challenge those decisions. I will keep you updated on the outcome of these lawsuits.
Have a Happy and Safe fourth of July

Congratulations to all our graduates. I wish everyone the very best as you begin the next chapter in your life. Chase your dreams, keep achieving and never stop learning.

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.