Martin M. Looney

Senate President Pro Tempore

Martin M. Looney

An Advocate for Us

April 16, 2020

Connecticut Senate Democrats Continue Daily Constituent Service Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Series of Letters Outlines Formal Efforts to Shape State’s Response to the Pandemic

Contact: Kevin Coughlin | | 203-710-0193

HARTFORD – Through a series of daily, hours-long conference calls with executive branch agency heads and Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, the 22 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus are continuing to work behind the scenes to represent their constituents and to effect change at the state level through a series of caucus letters and public policy recommendations.

Since March 20 – the same day Governor Lamont issued his ‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’ order directing all non-essential businesses and not-for-profit entities in Connecticut to prohibit all in-person functions if they are able to – the Democratic members of the Connecticut State Senate have written numerous times to Gov. Lamont, Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, and even members of the private sector.

“Governor Lamont is meeting the challenges of navigating Connecticut through these uncharted waters, with a seemingly new crisis to be solved every day. We all owe a profound debt to the frontline health care workers who are literally saving lives every day in Connecticut,” said Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven). “But of course, as in all times of crisis, we are involved in a team effort to bring safety and stability to the state. The federal government has a major role to play, as does the state executive branch. The General Assembly also has its role. Senate Democrats represent nearly two-thirds of the population of Connecticut, and we are hearing from them daily on a wide variety of issues and working to ensure their concerns are addressed.”

“Unfortunately, Connecticut – and Fairfield County in particular – are at the center of the coronavirus epidemic in America. That calls for direct and decisive action on a number of fronts, including and especially constituent advocacy at the state House and Senate levels,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “This is a time when elected office is not for the faint of heart, and when the role of government comes into crystal-clear focus. There are desperate needs that I am hearing about every single day, issues that need a resolution, and even though the legislature is currently not in session we are all dedicated to continuing our constituent service, even if it’s at a distance, in writing. But there is no giving up.”

The Senate Democrats’ COVID-19-related public policy recommendations suggested in its letters include:

  • March 20: Implementing the most effective policy possible to reduce the rate of infection by dramatically limiting the degree of interaction or contact by individuals in our state.
  • March 23: Strengthen the suggestive “stay at home” order into a more forceful “shelter in place” policy; issuing strong, clear daily messages on the importance of remaining at home; send explicit warnings to younger people that they are at risk; consider reversing the decision to declare firearms dealers as ‘essential businesses’; and consider adopting ‘safe store’ guidelines in which retail stores can implement to remain open while protecting both employees and customers;
  • March 31: Requiring local school boards to continue paying paraeducators, school bus drivers, bus monitors, cafeteria workers, janitors and others whether they are on local Board of education payrolls or paid through an outside vendor or, failing that, prorating state ECS funding to cities and towns.
  • April 9: Modify Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act to include workers who have regular interaction with co-workers or strangers during the pandemic, and who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are presumed to have acquired the virus on the job and are therefore entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
  • April 9: A letter to Governor Lamont to place reasonable restrictions on the use of hydroxychloroquine, also known as Plaquenil.
  • April 9: In a letter to the Congressional delegation, seeking extra federal financial aid for Connecticut cities and towns in anticipation of forecasted municipal budgetary shortfalls at the conclusion of the municipal fiscal year.
  • April 10 and 11: A letter to Project Service LLC CEO Michael Jones and Gov. Lamont calling for the end of private sector harassment of food service and retail employees at Connecticut’s service plazas, increasing pay and benefits, improving sanitation procedures, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for interactions with customers, including truck drivers.
  • April 10 and 14: Letters asking the state Health Department to issue a call for blood plasma donations specifically to benefit COVID-19 patients
  • April 13: A letter to Connecticut’s federal delegation seeking a follow-up package of federal aid for individuals and businesses to include enhanced health care, farm supports, a relaxation of credit scoring, increased Medicaid payments to nonprofits, relief for tribal governments, and removal of President Trump’s SALT cap (income tax deductions for State And Local Taxes) which increased the tax liability of Connecticut residents by an estimated $2.8 billion.
  • April 16: A letter asking for financial support for Connecticut’s funeral homes, especially those in our inner cities, that require assistance to safely handle deceased victims of the virus.
  • April 16: A letter to Connecticut’s federal delegation asking for forgiveness of federal student loans for the employees of essential businesses.

“Governor Lamont has done a commendable job so far under very trying circumstances. We want him to know that he has a willing and able partner in the Senate Democratic Caucus in the fight to protect the health and safety of the people of Connecticut,” said Sen. Looney and Sen. Duff. “This virus will be defeated, and we will move forward with as a more resilient and sentient state as a result of our shared experience and our shared dedication to one another.”

The full text of the letters to date can be found here. The list will continue to grow throughout the crisis.