Category Archives: Brendan Sharkey

Speaker Sharkey: None of Malloy’s 8 Vetoes Will Be Overridden

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy Date:

BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

The Democratic-controlled legislature will not override any of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s vetoes this year, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Tuesday.

So far, Malloy has vetoed eight bills on a wide variety of subjects, and he has said that the legislature can fix some of the problems in the vetoed bills when it reconvenes in January 2015. Since Malloy, a Democrat, took office in January 2011, the legislature has not overridden any of his vetoes.

The legislature will still hold a veto session, as required, but it will be a gavel in, gavel out proposition that is expected to last a matter of minutes.

Sharkey was first asked about Malloy’s veto of legislation which would have required health care organizations to report more data about mental health and substance abuse coverage. Sharkey said that he understood Malloy’s reasoning for the veto — essentially, that the data called for could be skewed, incomplete, or otherwise complicated — and that he would not support an override.

Sharkey was then asked if he would consider overriding any of Malloy’s vetoes. Again, he replied with a curt “no.” Continue reading

Remembering State Rep. Larry Miller of Stratford After Long Cancer Battle

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey Date:

State legislators are mourning the death of state Rep. Lawrence G. Miller, who became known at the Capitol as a major supporter of stem cell research during his own lengthy battle with cancer. He died Saturday at the age of 78.

The Courant chronicled Miller’s journey back in 2004 during the height of the battle over stem cell research in the state legislature.

“Look at me,” Miller told colleagues at the time. “I’m stem cell.”

He bluntly added, “I’m supposed to be dead.”

When he was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, Miller was told by doctors that he might have only three years to live. But he had already lived six years by the time of the 2004 debate and eventually lived 16 years from his diagnosis.

His cancer went into remission after he received two stem cell transplants at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock in a complex procedure that involved harvesting his own blood.

The stem cell bill was eventually passed with Miller’s support and signed into law by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Continue reading

House, Senate Approve $19 Billion Annual Budget That Delays Tax Breaks

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Brendan Sharkey, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy Date:

HARTFORD — The state Senate early Sunday morning approved a $19 billion annual budget that postpones three tax breaks for shoppers and retired teachers as the state’s surplus evaporates in a still-sluggish Connecticut economy.

Democrats hailed the package for providing funding for public education, housing, after-school programs, social service needs and transportation infrastructure to improve roads and bridges.
But Republicans decried it as an unrealistic, gimmick-filled document that includes $75 million in additional tax-collection projections that were revealed for the first time on Saturday and had not yet been verified by the legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal office.

In a rare Saturday session that lasted until 10 p.m., the House voted 91-55 for the package with three fiscally conservative Democrats and all Republicans voting against. Lawmakers debated for more than three hours in a session that was halted briefly as legislators watched the Kentucky Derby horse race.

After the House vote, the Senate began debating at about 10:15 p.m. and voted shortly after midnight. Sen. Joan Hartley of Waterbury was the only Senate Democrat to vote against the package.

A major factor in the budget is the recent collapse of the state surplus as revenues were down after the April 15 tax deadline by more than $450 million. That prompted Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to drop his plans for tax rebates of $55 for individuals and $110 for couples that would have arrived in the mail less than two months before this fall’s gubernatorial election.

Because the estimates on the projected surplus were wrong by more than 90 percent, Republicans questioned whether the new numbers released on Saturday were correct. Democrats, though, said the numbers were based on the best analysis by state employees who specialize in tax and finance projections.

The all-funds budget increase of 2.5 percent that was revealed Saturday is higher than the general fund rate of 1.6 percent that was announced by Malloy the previous day.

State Sen. Beth Bye of West Hartford, the co-chairwoman of the budget-writing committee, said in her opening remarks late Saturday night that the spending growth was lower than those in past years.

“Yes, it looks as if spending is lower … because we’ve moved money from one checking account to another checking account,” said Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking Senate Republican on the budget committee.

“It’s bad out there. Our employment rate is still high,” Kane said. “We’ve seen the largest tax increase in our state history, and it didn’t work. … Why is that? Because we continue to spend and spend and spend.”

“Madame President, this budget is bad,” said Sen. Michael McLachlan, a Danbury Republican. “I urge rejection.” Continue reading

Sharkey’s Property Tax Reform Bill Clears First legislative Hurdle

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey Date:

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey’s proposal to overhaul the property tax system in Connecticut got its first legislative endorsement Saturday, setting the stage for a broader debate on the topic next year.

The bill, approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 94 to 45, would ensure taxable properties remain on municipal tax rolls even if they are purchased by private, tax-exempt entities.

Sharkey called it a “necessary first step toward comprehensive tax relief” and said he hopes the discussion about the way property taxes are assessed will continue in the 2015 legislative session.

“The critical need for property tax relief is one of the most important issues facing Connecticut’s families,” Sharkey said. “This bill will prevent an increase in property taxes paid by hard-working families, caused by colleges and hospitals removing single family homes and other taxable properties from the tax rolls of our communities.”

Several Republican lawmakers expressed concern about the impact the measure could have on local hospitals. “In my city of Stamford we have one hospital…and it’s a not-for-profit,” said Republican Rep. Mike Molgano. “This proposed bill concerns me deeply and I cannot in all good conscience support it.”

The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration. If it clears both chambers and is signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the policy would take effect for property on a town’s grand list as of October 1, 2013 that are then bought by qualifying tax exempt non-profits beginning July 1, 2014.

Republicans Offer Alternative Budget That Would Eliminate Rebates, Keno, and EITC

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney Date:

With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, Republicans offered an alternative budget Thursday that rejects Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $55 tax rebates and eliminates keno gambling.

The Republican plan would save the state more than $120 million per year by eliminating the state earned income tax credit for the working poor, but that idea was immediately criticized by Democrats.

Republicans said they were offering a gimmick-free alternative to the second year of the two-year budget that restores funding to multiple accounts that include transportation and clean energy.

“This is an honest approach that eliminates the ugly gimmicks and ‘techniques’ that have been employed to balance the budget only on paper,” said House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk. “Absent the gimmicks, the Democratic budget would be $150 million over the spending cap and out of balance.”

Republicans also blasted the statements by the Malloy administration, citing a University of Connecticut economist, that sending the rebate checks back to residents would stimulate the economy so much that it would create 1,200 new jobs.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. “Show me those jobs that are created. … You can’t make this stuff up. Real people in the real world don’t believe that adding that money [from rebates] creates jobs.”

Cafero asked, “If you got another 55 bucks, that’s all of a sudden going to create 1,200 jobs? What world does that happen in?”

But Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said that the Republican proposal falls short on several points as “a political document that’s heavy on rhetoric” that was produced “after months of grandstanding” against Malloy’s budget.

“Perhaps most troubling, it includes a $120 million tax increase on Connecticut’s working poor by eliminating the EITC, what Ronald Reagan called ‘the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress,’ ” Barnes said.

Barnes continued, “It also contains $54.8 million in phantom spending cuts that are not detailed anywhere.  Finally, it does all this and yet their bottom line spending is less than 0.1 percent different from the Governor’s proposed budget. So much for cutting spending.”

The detailed Republican proposal includes more than 400 line items of cuts and additions in a wide variety of state departments, covering environmental protection, corrections, public safety, education, labor, transportation, motor vehicles, criminal justice, public health, and children and families. 

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the highest-ranking senator, said, “I didn’t see any bold ideas proposed by the Republicans. … After a big buildup, I think it was a big letdown.” Continue reading

Highly Unusual: House Speaker Calls Bill, Votes Against It, And Measure Fails

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey Date:

In an unusual move, the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives strongly rejected a controversial that had been passed the previous day by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

It is rare that the House ever calls a bill and votes it down on the House floor. Instead, the normal way is that the bill is not called at all – to avoid any embarrassment of a bill going down in flames.

That did not happen Thursday as a bill to ban the sale of genetically modified lawn seed was rejected by 103 to 37 on a bipartisan basis.

House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey said it was the first time that he had called a bill as the speaker, voted against it, and watched it voted down on the House floor. He also never spoke once to the bill’s chief proponent, Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams.

“I’ve never, ever been consulted about this bill by anyone in the Senate,’’ Sharkey told reporters after the vote. “The advocates wanted a vote on the bill, so I felt it was most important to have the vote and avoid the distraction that was going to inevitably occur if we kept it on our calendar for days or weeks. … Rather than prolong that, we felt it was important to just go ahead and have the vote, get it done, and move on to the important things we have to do this session.’’

When asked if he was concerned that any of his bills will get bottled up now in the Senate, Sharkey said, “I’m not worried about that at all – just as I believe the Senate is not worried about their bills getting through the House. We work cooperatively together.’’ Continue reading

House GOP Leader Larry Cafero Retiring From Legislature After 22 Years

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy Date:

After winning 11 elections in his hometown, House Republican leader Larry Cafero announced Wednesday that he is retiring after 22 years in the legislature and eight years as caucus leader.

A blunt-talking political veteran, Cafero is known for his outspoken speeches on the floor of the state House of Representatives on a wide variety of high-profile issues, including the death penalty, gun control, crime, education, and the state budget. He is also known for his sharp criticisms of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy over the past 3 1/2 years.

In his 19-minute farewell speech on the House floor Wednesday, Cafero noted that he has clashed often with the House Democrats on public policies.

\”It was never personal, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,\’\’ Cafero told his colleagues.

He also offered a bit of advice to his friends. \”Learn to laugh at yourself,\’\’ Cafero said. \”Don\’t ever take yourself too seriously.\’\’

He added, \”It\’s my turn to say goodbye. … Thank you.\’\’

Cafero, 56, cited some of the \”giants\’\’ of the state legislature who were known for their impassioned debates through the years, including Republicans Richard Belden of Shelton and William Wollenberg of Farmington and Democrats Richard Tulisano of Rocky Hill and Bill Dyson of New Haven.

\”These people were giants,\’\’ Cafero said.

He mentioned many of those in the crowded chamber who attended his farewell, including former House GOP leader Bob Ward and former Senate GOP leader Lou DeLuca.

Cafero said he was looking forward to spending time with his 94-year-old father and his 89-year-old mother who had attended a \”State of the State\’\’ speech he delivered last year in Norwalk.

\”They tied my shoes when I couldn\’t, and maybe it\’s time to tie their\’s,\’\’ Cafero said as he thanked his parents, his wife, and his three children.

Cafero will not be seeking reelection this fall, but he will continue to serve in his seat until January 2015.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a Democrat who served in the House chamber with Cafero 20 years ago, called him \”an institution\’\’ in the legislature.

Cafero thanked everyone from his caucus to the Capitol police to the janitors who clean the Capitol at night, as well as \”our lobbyist community, who I have incredible respect for.\’\’

To mark the day, the traditional prayer at the beginning of the House session was delivered by Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski, the pastor for the past 20 years at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in Cafero\’s hometown of Norwalk. As the guest chaplain for the day, the monsignor cited Cafero\’s \”strength of character\’\’ in the prayer and asked that Cafero\’s future \”be filled with every grace and blessing.\’\’ Following the prayer, Cafero was asked by House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey to lead the chamber in the Pledge of Allegiance. Cafero received a round of applause after the Pledge.

Although Cafero’s announcement in the House chamber had been long planned, it was delayed several times, including by the death of Rep. Elaine O’Brien of Suffield. The announcement comes one month after the resignation of George Gallo, the longtime House Republican chief of staff who is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation into whether Republican legislators were steered into using a Florida direct-mail house for their campaign brochures. No charges have been filed in the probe.

In a rare speech from the dais Wednesday, House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey said, \”The first person who came to me to congratulate me on my election was Larry.\’\’

\”We do have our differences. We do have our different philosophies,\’\’ Sharkey said, adding that Cafero would \”still support you on a personal level nonetheless.\’\’

\”I know I can call Larry at any time to ask for help,\’\’ Sharkey said. \”We both fundamentally love the state of Connecticut. Larry, you are an extraordinary leader and an even better friend.\’\’ Continue reading

Speaker Brendan Sharkey Gets Go-Ahead From Ethics Board For New Energy Job

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey Date:

House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey has received the go-ahead from state ethics regulators to accept a job as the new business development manager for an energy cooperative.

Sharkey\’s chief legal counsel, Ricky Baltimore, sought an advisory opinion from the Office of State Ethics for Sharkey to work for an organization called Everyone Can Help Out. The ruling says the entity is defined on its web site as \”an energy cooperative owned by municipal utilities.\’\’

The state ethics board said that Sharkey could go forward by stating, \”We conclude that the Speaker may accept the proposed outside employment, provided that he does not solicit business from either client or communicator lobbyists, that he is hired by virtue of his expertise (rather than his state office), and that he abides by the limitations\’\’ set forth in the six-page ruling.

In an interview Thursday with Capitol Watch, Sharkey said that the high-profile nature of the Speaker\’s office should prompt anyone holding the office to check in advance before accepting an outside job.

\”I think it\’s important to ensure that you are not crossing any boundaries that you might not otherwise have thought of,\’\’ Sharkey said. \”There\’s nothing going on here that I wouldn\’t want the public to know about. It\’s part of the job. I think it\’s important to maintain a high level of integrity, obviously, to the office. This is one small thing that you can do that you\’re accomplishing.\’\’

The limitations, the ruling said, include that the Speaker must not:

\”trade on his [state] position … in order to receive favorable treatment … including taking official action as a quid pro quo for any other business deal, opportunity, or advantage.\’\’

\”exploit contacts made in state service to recruit private clients for the outside employer\’\’ Continue reading

Keno Gambling Appears Dead in CT

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Brendan Sharkey, Democrats, Gov. Dannel Malloy Date:

Keno gambling appears dead in Connecticut before the games even started – as numerous top officials now say they are against the bingo-like game.

House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey called Wednesday for the state to repeal keno before it takes effect – dealing a huge blow to the game and essentially ending its chances for implementation. Continue reading

Gun Control Groups Rank CT High

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Gun control, Hartford Date:

A report out today by he Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign says Connecticut has the second strongest gun control laws in the country.

\"gunHouse Speaker Brendan Sharkey had this to say:

Unlike what is happening in Washington, Democrats and Republicans worked closely together in Connecticut to pass the type of gun safety legislation that is long overdue at the federal level. Universal background checks combined with a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines are all important steps in the continuing battle to reduce gun violence. I’m proud that the Brady Campaign has recognized our state’s effort, but what is really needed is a Congress that puts partisan posturing aside in favor of the kind of gun safety laws that will make our country a safer place for everyone.