Conn.: State Legislature extends Lamont’s emergency powers, sports betting begins and health insurance rates are increased

October 6, 2021

Special session to extend Gov. Lamont’s emergency powers. The Connecticut General Assembly met over the course of two days in late September for a special session to approve an extension of Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers. The extension—which was approved by comfortable margins in both chambers—allows Lamont to mandate the wearing of masks in Connecticut schools; mandate vaccinations for state employees, school employees, and health care workers; and keeps the UniteCT program in place, which provides relief to renters who fall behind on payments to their landlords. The governor’s powers will remain in place until Feb. 15, 2022—about a week after the 2022 legislative session begins.

Sports betting goes live in Connecticut. Legalized sports betting began in Connecticut on Sept. 30, 2021—after years of debate over how to legalize it, and months of waiting for federal approval of the changes to the compacts between the state and the two tribal nations. Bets were taken in person at both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino—Lamont made the ceremonial first wagers at both casinos. Online gaming is expected to begin in the coming weeks, in addition to gaming at up to 15 physical sites throughout the state, which will be operated by the Connecticut Lottery.

Health insurance rate hikes. The Connecticut Insurance Department approved rate hikes that were requested by health insurers in mid-September—but not at the levels requested by the carriers. On average—according to the CT Mirror—insurers asked for an 8.6% rate increase over last year’s rates for individual health plans, and 12.9% for group policies. Instead, the CID approved rate increases of 5.6% and 6.7%, respectively, after complaints from State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Attorney General William Tong indicated that the increases would be too costly for residents. The carriers blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increases in prescription drug prices for the rate hikes.

James Woulfe, Esq.
The Connecticut Group LLC

James Woulfe, Esq., is the director of Government Affairs, The Connecticut Group LLC. He is PIACT’s lobbyist. James joined The Connecticut Group in November 2016. In 2013-14, while attending law school in the evenings, James worked at a Hartford-based nonprofit and led a successful grassroots campaign to drive passage of Connecticut’s benefit corporation statute. In 2015, he was appointed by then-House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz to the Commission on Connecticut’s Leadership in Corporation and Business Law, where he drafted a comprehensive plan to make Connecticut a national leader in the social enterprise sector.  In 2020, he was appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont to the board of the Metropolitan District Commission. The MDC provides quality water supply, water pollution control, mapping, and household hazardous waste collection to eight member municipalities. In 2021, he was appointed by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin to serve on the board of the Hartford Housing Authority. James received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2009, and his Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2015.

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