Extended absentee ballot changes, outdoor dining clear House | Live Well


HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A lot easier absentee voting and an outdoor eating option at restaurants — two community overall health strategies enacted early in the COVID-19 pandemic — are on monitor to be prolonged soon after clearing the state Home of Associates on Wednesday.

The Dwelling voted 126-16 in favor of a bill that incorporates the wide time period of “sickness” as a legitimate justification for requesting an absentee ballot, aligning condition law with existing language in Connecticut’s structure. The “sickness” excuse would implement to the specific voter’s health or an individual else’s well being, this kind of as an unwell relative.

Advocates for the aged and other at-chance groups have voiced guidance for this kind of a measure, saying a lot of residents remain worried about themselves or household customers contracting COVID-19 and want to make guaranteed they have an choice to vote by absentee. Previously provisions that particularly authorized COVID-19 to be a legitimate justification to ask for an absentee ballot have expired.

“The condition statutes are a lot more restrictive than the structure and these modifications will make it possible for an raise in voting alternatives by voters — selections that, about the past quite a few elections, voters have demonstrated they want to be capable to avail by themselves of,” explained John Erlingheuser, affiliate point out director for advocacy and outreach at AARP of Connecticut, in recent testimony prior to the Governing administration Administration and Elections Committee.

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Meanwhile, the Home also voted 121-21 in favor of an additional monthly bill that extends a regulation that broadly permits the continuation of out of doors eating and retail until eventually April 30, 2023. It can be set to expire March 31.

“When we started this procedure, we had been responding to a little something that was unknown, that was a problem for companies across the state, significantly our restaurant market, which was strike pretty challenging,” mentioned Rep. Joe Zullo, R-East Haven.

“We’re in this article and we’re in a minimal little bit of a distinct place,” stated Zullo. “We’re not rather to the 9th inning, but possibly we’re just outside of the 7th inning extend, and we can see the gentle at the stop of the tunnel. Businesses are opening up. Our overall economy is starting to recover, but we however have some dining establishments that are battling.”

Some Republicans voiced worries about equally costs through Wednesday’s discussion. A number of reported they be concerned that municipal handle more than a zoning make any difference is remaining overruled by condition legislation. Some others questioned the need for producing modifications to the point out legislation about absentee ballots.

“It’s in my thoughts a again doorway way to get into no-excuses absentee voting,” mentioned Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott. “It opens up the doorway for ballot harvesting mainly because everyone is eligible for absentee ballot because of illness.”

In an unanimous opinion issued in February 2021, the Connecticut Supreme Court decided that the phrase “sickness” is not confined to an specific voter’s ailment. The court docket also established it incorporated particular health conditions, together with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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