Sen. Kelly Remarks on Today’s Senate Debate on Extending Emergency Declaration and Executive Orders

February 14, 2022

HARTFORD – Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) issued the following remarks today during the Senate debate on House Bill 5047 and House Joint Resolution 1. The legislation debated and voted on today in the State Senate extends the Governor’s executive orders and declares a continuation of a public health emergency and civil preparedness emergency through June 30, 2022.





Today’s vote on these executive orders reflects a lack of leadership that has left Connecticut in the position we now face.


Today’s vote is not a decision guided by science. This is an ask of the legislature guided by politics. The governor no longer wants to be the one to extend CT’s emergency and his executive orders, for a 7th time. The result was chaos over the last few weeks. No one knew if the governor was going to extend his orders and powers. No one knew what was being asked of the legislature until the very day of the House vote when the bills were released.


What should have happened is leadership.


We knew this date was coming. Lawmakers should have been working on legislation for months to codify needed laws with input from experts, the public, workers, educators, and parents. Democratic lawmakers extended Gov. Lamont’s powers six times, with the latest in September. They chose the end date for these executive orders. But they did nothing for months to give the public a voice in the process to enhance and codify these orders as legislation. We could have dealt with these issues with full public hearings in October, November, December and January. But the majority didn’t.


Instead, we got chaos. We got a sham “informational hearing” that excluded the voices of hundreds of people who signed up to testify, that excluded nearly a quarter of CT residents who do not have internet access, and that excluded the committees cognizance and experts in complex policy matters.


Today we have a false choice. This is not choosing to reinstate the legislature as an equal branch of government. This is a vote to extend all orders, in one vote, that were created by one branch of government operating in a silo without the voices of the public or the knowledge of advocates or experts outside of the Governor’s inner circle.


This is a process that is flawed, that disregards the importance of three equal branches of government, and that ignores the importance of public input in government.


Let’s not forget we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people.


This sets a dangerous precedent that continued exclusion of public voices has become the norm in Connecticut. The majority wants your vote, but not your voice.


For those reasons, I will be voting no and urge my colleagues to do the same.






Two years ago we faced an unimaginable situation.


We were terrified. No one understood the virus. We had no vaccine. Our nursing homes were war zones. Our children were pushed out of school. Businesses were shut down. Our families were pushed into our homes, closed off from each other, and our front line workers were pushed into a world full of unknowns.


Today, we are not in that same place. We are recovering. We are rebuilding. We are managing the pandemic with everything we learned and implemented over the last two years to keep people safe and move forward.


Even the Governor says we are in a different place today, and he does not want to be the one to extend the state of emergency for a 7th time.


Yet here we are as a legislature voting today not to move to end the state of emergency, but to extend the state of emergency to the end of the fiscal year.


I quote “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Connecticut General Assembly hereby declares that a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency continue to exist throughout the state through June 30, 2022.”


It sends the wrong message at a time when we need to focus on recovery, not a perpetual state of emergency.


I’ve heard people falsely state that an emergency declaration is the only way to secure enhanced SNAP benefits. The reality is other states have ended their emergency declarations and successfully worked with the federal government to retain enhanced benefits. New York, for example, ended their emergency declaration when it expired in June of 2021, and was able to successfully work with the federal government to secure the maximum allotment for all SNAP households until the expiration of the federal declaration. Other states that have also ended their state’s emergency declarations have also worked with the federal government to ensure individuals still receive increased SNAP, including Wisconsin, Kansas, and many others.


To blame federal aid is not accurate and it’s a distraction.


It is time for Connecticut to move forward with all that we have learned to safely recover and rebuild.


We are not in the emergency we were in March of 2020. Everyone in our state knows that and is working hard to live in a world where we can manage COVID-19, protect our families, and move forward.


We must not extend a state of emergency today as the majority is requesting in this resolution.