Governor Lamont Declares Continuing State of Emergency, Extends Executive Emergency Powers Through February 9, 2021

by Michael A. Ceccorulli

On September 1, 2020, Governor Lamont signed a declaration extending the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergencies first declared in Connecticut on March 10, 2020, which had been set to expire on September 9, 2020.  The existing emergency powers have been used by the Governor to issue approximately 67 executive orders to address the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to various aspects of Connecticut’s healthcare system, its economy, and its social, civic and governmental institutions.  Many anticipated that the legislature would take action to maintain the states of emergency and the executive orders in place, but the declaration suggests that such action was beyond the legislature’s reach at this time. 

The Governor further declared new public health and civil preparedness emergencies “out of an abundance of caution and to eliminate any confusion about the extent of my emergency powers… that will arise in the coming months and did not constitute clear justifications for the original emergencies” declared in March.  This was declared in response to concerns over the statutory basis for the continuation of the Governor’s emergency powers in relation to new issues that did not exist in March, and other questions and concerns surrounding the states of emergency that have been raised in political and legal circles over prior months. 

Governor Lamont’s declaration specifically addressed the ongoing and evolving challenges presented in managing “the reopening and continued operation of schools, colleges, and universities….”  Pullman & Comley’s School Law practice group has been providing continual alerts and analysis on the impacts of COVID-19, various executive orders, and novel legal and operational considerations affecting educators, administration and educational institutions.  Clients can refer to our firm’s Education Law Notes blog for more specific guidance on these issues. As the school year commences with various remote, in-person and hybrid models being implemented throughout the state, it appears clear that the Governor’s office believes it will need to issue additional executive orders to address problems as they arise, including a possible increase in the infection rate.

The Governor also noted the need for emergency powers to address “the potential health and other risks that may arise out of the coming general election in November.”  In July, the legislature passed a law permitting voters with health and safety concerns regarding the pandemic to vote by absentee ballot (rather than going to the polls in November).  Beyond the upcoming elections, Pullman & Comley’s Municipal Law practice group will provide guidance on anticipated executive action to be taken in coming weeks to extend open-meeting/FOIA protocols (previously discussed here), permit public financing transactions, and facilitate tax collections at the local level. 

With respect to the numerous executive orders impacting health care providers and their patients and associated orders issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, the declaration also carries forward those that were already in effect.  Highlights of those orders can be found on our firm’s Connecticut Health Law Blog.

The declaration took effect on Friday, September 4, after a special bipartisan committee voted to extend Governor Lamont’s emergency powers. Given that the committee was majority-controlled by the Governor’s Democratic colleagues, a rejection was considered unlikely.  If a rejection had occurred, the legislature would have been forced to reconvene and review and approve the Governor’s orders on an expedited basis in order to prevent the legal and operational crises that would have occurred if the current states of emergency expired on September 9.

For up to date alerts and analysis clients should visit Pullman & Comley’s website frequently to view recent publications and specific advisories related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jump to Page