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Lawmakers hold daylong public hearing on extending Lamont’s pandemic emergency powers

The Connecticut State Capitol Building in Hartford
Sage Ross
The Connecticut State Capitol Building in Hartford

Connecticut lawmakers will consider extending some of Governor Ned Lamont’s pandemic emergency powers when the state General Assembly reconvenes on Wednesday. The powers would expire next week.

Lawmakers heard from hundreds of concerned residents on Tuesday, with more than 300 people signed up for the daylong public hearing.

Their opinions differed.

“I personally would like to see masks stay in place until warmer weather when windows can be opened,” said Jan Hochadel, president of AFT Connecticut, a union that represents 30,000 educators, healthcare workers and public employees.

Hochadel urged lawmakers to continue some of the governor’s mandates beyond next week.

Lamont has asked that his school mask mandate be extended until the end of the month. After that, it would be up to local school boards to decide.

“There’s nothing normal about keeping your God-given nostrils and mouth for the purpose of breathing covered. And there’s definitely nothing social in distancing,“ said Robyn Dinatale, a local business owner. She urged lawmakers not to extend the governor’s emergency pandemic powers, especially the state’s mask mandate.

Lamont is seeking an extension of 11 of the 300 mandates he’s issued. The state would lose about $50 million a month in federal pandemic relief money if all his emergency powers were allowed to expire, according to Lamont.

Lawmakers plan to vote on Lamont’s emergency powers on Thursday.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.