Start of session
The Connecticut General Assembly has given a hammer blow and is now in session to do the people’s business for 2022. On opening day, February 9, Governor Lamont gave his address on the state of the state in the chambers of the Chamber in person, unlike last year when it was via Zoom. A memorable part of his speech was when he said, “I think it’s time to end the statewide school mask mandate and allow each school board to decide what is best for their schools. From a public health perspective, you have earned this freedom…”
What is striking are two things: (1) that the Governor has a blind spot in not believing that parents know what is best for their children, believing instead that school boards know what is best for children, and (2) that as governor of the constitutional state, he should be reminded that we the people have established a government to protect our inalienable rights, so the concept of citizens reclaiming their freedom government is anathema.
Indeed, the Governor’s speech set the stage for the future. House and Senate votes on COVID emergency declarations and the codification of the governor’s remaining executive orders have shown a crystal-clear contrast between how politicians who support more freedom for citizens differ from politicians who want more government control. These votes make it clear to Connecticut voters where each member of the legislature stands, and in this election year, they will have two distinct viewpoints to choose from. Not Republican versus Democrat; it’s very 2020. In 2022, it’s freedom versus government control.
Take COVID emergency declarations. After an unprecedented 707 days (since March 10, 2020) in a declared public health emergency and with emergency preparedness rules in effect that granted the governor extraordinary powers to rule by decree, Governor Lamont finally waived his his emergency powers on February 15. , 2022. In contrast, governors of neighboring states like New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts have seen fit to end their COVID emergency declarations in the summer of 2021.
But where the governor left off, the legislature picked up. Citing Section 3 of the Connecticut Constitution which grants the General Assembly broad police powers, including those necessary to protect public health and safety, the majority party passed Joint House Resolution No. 1 declaring the state a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency until June 30, 2022. Another 140 days of severe government control.
We know more about how to treat COVID today than a year ago. And many of us have chosen to get vaccinated, 93% of Connecticut residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 77% are considered fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Are we really in a statewide emergency when on September 14, the same day the Senate voted to declare the new states of emergency, a headline in a major newspaper proclaimed: “ St. Patrick’s Day parades are back in Connecticut. At present, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that Connecticut has 417 inpatient beds for COVID out of a total of 7,531 beds. It’s 5.6%. Of course, every hospitalization is an emergency for that person and their family, but not for the entire state.
For the legislator, declaring not one but two emergencies – public health and civil preparedness – when this is not our reality is an abuse of power.
Why did the legislator do it? They said “for money” because making these statements entitled Connecticut to receive additional federal funding – equivalent to at least $95 more per month for those already receiving income assistance program funding. supplemental nutrition for the economically disadvantaged citizens of our state.
There’s no denying that $95 more per month is $95 more per month. It is a real material gain for those who receive these funds. Yet we who cherish freedom care not only about the immediate material results, but we also care about the spiritual results and the effects on daily life and economic well-being that continued states of emergency will have. I believe that the majority of citizens of all economic strata want their government to act with honesty and integrity, and not just to claw back more dollars from the federal government, especially when they know those dollars will be paid for by inflationary pressures resulting in increased food and gas. additional prices or taxes.
Instead of handing out more handouts that keep many of our citizens dependent on government for support and diminishing their souls, how about trying policies that actually lift people out of poverty permanently? How about policies to take smaller portions out of people’s paychecks so they can have more money to spend on their needs, values, and ideas? What about policies to reduce some of the heavy-handed rules and paperwork demanded of business owners and managers that divert their energy and focus from their businesses, their workers and their customers, hurting everyone world, except those who work for the government? I believe this is what most residents of our state desire.
Which brings me back to the early days of this session when the Connecticut General Assembly voted to codify the remaining 11 executive orders as a lump sum without holding public hearings on each one. The results? Our children will be forcibly masked at school until at least February 28 and possibly June 30, according to the advice of the Education and Public Health Commissioners and their local school boards. Nursing home managers will continue to face severe staffing shortages due to their workers’ resistance to the vaccination mandate, which now includes booster shots.
In 2022, it’s about more freedom versus more government control. I hope citizens will not be able to dis-see what they can see so clearly now. And the dots will connect. From pronouncements by the Legislature on statewide emergencies to absentee voting by mail, again, when it is not permitted by our State Constitution. It is incumbent on citizens who value the freedom to speak, write letters, sign petitions, engage friends and neighbors, organize groups, attend rallies and perhaps even to run for office this fall on freedom-focused platforms. If they do, the victory will be theirs. It can be done.
Kimberly Fiorello, a Republican, is a state representative for the 149th district, which includes the cities of Greenwich and Stamford.