House Green Lights Extension of COVID-19 Laws
The House gave final passage Wednesday to a package of four concepts that had been executive orders and are now law. Previously, the concepts were executive orders to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We used our legislative power to codify certain executive orders,” Rep. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, said. “And all we are doing today is taking four of those laws that we codified and extending them further to June 30th.”
If the legislature didn’t act, the four laws would have expired on April 15.
D’Agostino said the four laws were non-controversial. He said one of them would allow the state to continue to receive federal funds for congregate housing for the homeless and domestic abuse victims. Another allows landlords to continue to receive reimbursement for not evicting tenants who are late with their rent. A third allows health providers to continue to access vaccination records, and the fourth allows the state to continue to certify nursing assistants.
“There have been 1,300 of those temporary certificates issued over the course of the pandemic,” D’Agostino said.
Republican lawmakers objected to the emergency certification of the extension because it means the four concepts skipped over the public hearing process.
“There’s no reason why any of these bills here today couldn’t go through that process,” Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, said. “This has been going on for two years. It really is in my mind an abuse of power.”
Mastrofrancesco said she can’t understand why the legislature would again need to extend executive orders.
D’Agostino reiterated that they were no longer executive orders. He said they were simply now laws that lawmakers are extending.
Mastrofrancesco said it seems like “we’re in a neverending pandemic.”
She said at some point this has to end.
Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, said the reason these concepts are before the legislature is because of the continued ineptitude of state government.
He said the UniteCT program which helped dole out federal funds to landlords for delinquent rent needed to be extended because the Housing Department couldn’t get their work done.
“We’re not permitting additional people to apply,” Perillo said.
He said there are 22,000 unresolved applications.
In two months only 8,000 applications had been adjudicated, he added.
“We have landlords still going without payment,” he said. “These are small landlords who have to pay their bills. We still as a state haven’t figured this out in two years.”
As far as the CT Wiz system, which contains the vaccination records, including the COVID-19 vaccine information, Perillo said the extension continues to give access to local health departments. He said they don’t need access. He said individuals and providers would still be able to access the information without this legislation.
He said the system wouldn’t disappear on Friday. It existed before COVID-19.
The House voted 90-49 to send the bill to Gov. Ned Lamont, who has said he would sign it.
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