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Connecticut Legislature Passes Bill Providing More Legislative Oversight of Emergency Declarations

  • Connecticut General Assembly approves measure providing greater legislative oversight for civil preparedness and public health emergencies
  • Changes include requirement that majority vote in both chambers is necessary to extend emergency declarations
  • Lawmakers plan to review current law on emergency declarations to recommend further changes

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The Connecticut General Assembly has approved a measure giving the state legislature more oversight of the governor’s actions during a civil preparedness or public health emergency. The measure accompanies the approval of another extension of Governor Ned Lamont’s emergency powers through July 20 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Connecticut Senate voted 33-2 late Thursday to approve the oversight measure, following its unanimous approval in the Connecticut House of Representatives on Tuesday. While the current law only allows the legislature to disapprove emergency declarations through the vote of a special committee, the bill revises the law to:

  • Require a majority vote in both chambers to approve extensions
  • Limit the extension of emergency powers to 60 days if the legislature is in session or 180 days if it is not
  • Require the governor’s executive orders to be reviewed by a bipartisan committee

The measure extends such oversight through March 2022, and Lamont has indicated he will sign it. Lawmakers also plan to create a commission to review civil preparedness and public health emergency declarations.

Republican legislators have criticized the sweeping powers granted to the governor during the COVID-19 pandemic as undermining legislative authority, and several businesses and organizations have filed lawsuits challenging Lamont’s executive orders. However, the statute has been upheld in the courts.

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