here are many occasions this weekend to celebrate and honor people and issues of importance to us.
The first happens today, which is Juneteenth, sometimes known as Emancipation Day, which marks the end of slavery in the United States. This year is the 155th anniversary of the day in 1865 when General Gordon Granger led Union troops to Galvieston, Texas to make the announcement that the Civil War was over and enslaved people were free, two and a half years after the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation
As of today, when Phase 2 of the state’s reopening begins, 95% of our economy is now open. In order to bring our economy back, we must build confidence with business owners, who need both clear rules and flexibility from the state as they respond to the challenges ahead; with workers, who need access to reliable and safe childcare, and to know that their workplace is safe so they don’t bring infection back to their families, and with consumers, who want to see that businesses care about their health so they can access the services and products they need.
With a special session now on the horizon for July, the Appropriations Committee is scheduling meetings again: I have two so far on my calendar for next week. They’re still virtual meetings, but they are more formal than the phone and zoom calls with overlapping sets of legislators that have been taking place as we home in on what will be on the agenda. There are still logistics to be worked out for the special session itself: legislators will be at the capitol, but we may be able to vote from offices rather than the chamber in the Capitol Building, for example.
After many phone calls and letters from legislators to leadership, from leadership to the Governor, and yesterday from the Governor back to legislative leadership: the Governor has called the legislature for a special session this summer, which we agree should focus on COVID-19 response, making absentee ballots available in the general election in November, and police accountability and transparency in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
I went to Hartford yesterday for the first time since March 11, to retrieve some items from my office. It was eerie to be in the empty Legislative Office Building, where I saw a total of three people, the first of whom was a member of the State Capitol Police.