Steve Choi, a member of the Trumbull Board of Finance and Republican candidate for State Senate challenging Democratic incumbent Marilyn Moore, writes “The wheels of government turn slowly, but they should never stop.”
Since taking office and prior to the outbreak of covid-19, Governor Lamont issued six (6) executive orders. Beginning March 12 and up through today, Governor Lamont has issued seventy-six (76) executive orders and in comparison, the CT legislature has only passed 10 bills. While the Governor performed his official duties, the leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly took unprecedented measures in suspending lawmaking at the State Capitol and closing the Capitol indefinitely. The legislative session formally ended in early May with the General Assembly passing one (1) bill, a bonding resolution that totaled $4.7 billion on March 11, 2020. The Governor has ruled by fiat in the absence of the State Legislature for the past seven months and will continue to solely run state government until February of 2021.
Like the State Capitol, towns and cities were struck by the coronavirus, but in contrast to the State Legislature, municipalities continued operations. Apps such Zoom and Google Meet facilitated the resumption of commerce for some businesses and provided mayors, town councils, boards of finance, boards of education, and planning and zoning members the means to conduct meetings and keep local government functioning. If municipal boards and commissions could adapt to the challenges of virus protections, then why did the State Legislature fail to uphold its obligation to keep the Executive Branch in check and accountable? The wheels of government turn slowly, but they should never stop.
When Representatives and Senators take a hiatus from legislating, citizens suffer. When would one need a legislator? When their business is declared non-essential and forced to close? Or when an elderly parent is convalescing at a rehab facility and state policies force these facilities to accept patients who have tested positive for covid-19? To date, 65% of covid-19 deaths in Connecticut occurred in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. Legislators should be there for us during a crisis, period. Despite ongoing emails, social media posts, palm cards, or mailers, that state the usual platitudes of helping us in times of crisis, they have not. Every election year, tired slogans, and phrases such as “working for you” and “proudly serving” litter campaign palm cards and mailers of candidates on both sides of the aisle. It is difficult to believe that the legislators are actually “working for the citizens” when they have not shown up to work.
Throughout this pandemic, nurses, doctors, delivery drivers, grocery workers, first responders, and other “essential workers” continued to enter the burning buildings. But State Legislators fled. They had the privilege to watch from the safe confines of home, cash their state paycheck, and earn another year of service towards obtaining lifetime retiree health care and a state pension. In March, one particular legislator had the audacity to post on social media, “when you get those stimulus checks, make sure you save $$ some for Moore for Senate 2020. Just sayin’.” As businesses continue to close, and families struggled to work and educate their children from home, they were asked to use their relief funds to pad legislators’ retirement, and fund Cadillac health care plans. Really?
When voting this year, ask yourself the following questions: Did they return my call? Did they help my family? Did they help my business? Did they make my community more or less safe? Did they allow me to attend church? Wasn’t my legislator “essential?” Why weren’t they at work?