HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Lawmakers returned to the state capitol Wednesday and voted to extend the governor’s executive powers.
Wednesday afternoon, the state House of Representatives passed a resolution to give Gov. Ned Lamont more powers for another two months.
The state Senate also passed it.
Lamont’s orders were put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lamont said the orders are needed to protect the public and provide economic relief.
The hundreds of emergency orders covered things like requiring face masks in certain settings, expanding sites for vaccinations, and having the Dept. of Education set safety rules for schools and childcare, and provide more temporary housing.
This also comes the same day that the state's positivity rate jumped to 1.28%, the highest since June 1.
“We're still the best in the country but it tells you we're not out of the woods and I appreciate the legislature giving me a little bit of discretion so we can respond quickly if the Delta variant gets more dangerous," Lamont said on Wednesday.
Many Republican officials, however, didn't want to see the emergency orders extended. They called it an abuse of power.
“They want to control whether our kids wear masks, control whether we go to our house of worship, control where we have a beer at night,” argued Bob Stefanowski, a Republican and former gubernatorial candidate.
A group of people demanded an end to the governor's emergency powers.
Hundreds of people gathered at the state capitol on Monday to protest Lamont’s emergency orders getting extended.
At the height of the pandemic, Lamont had more than 300 emergency declarations. Most have since expired, but Lamont wants to keep 11 in place.
Republicans argued that the legislature should vote on the orders.
“We believe it is nothing short of a blatant reach for power," said Sen. Kevin Kelly, the Republican minority leader. "There is no need at this time.”
The House Minority leader said it's not the emergency orders they object to, it's the unprecedented use of power.
“This isn’t a litmus test on how well the governor has done or how well our vaccination rates are. This is really about are we in a state of emergency that gives the governor the right to act essentially as a lawmaker," said Republican State Rep. Vinnie Candelora.
Democrats said they believe the emergency orders have worked and will continue to do so.
“We know from science masks work and vaccinations work,” said Sen. Bob Duff, the Democratic majority leader.
Lamont asked the General Assembly to review and renew his declarations of public health and civil preparedness emergencies through Sept. 30.
Only two states are still in an emergency status: Connecticut and Rhode Island.
There is a benefit to being under that status. Connecticut is eligible for about $30 million per month in food benefits.
Lawmakers do have the power to veto any of Lamont’s emergency orders.