Category Archives: Brendan Sharkey

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

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey, Donald Williams, Martin Looney 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, George Gallo, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Larry Cafero 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, Keno, Larry Cafero, Toni Harp 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.

On the Calendar: Task Forces Studying School Dates and Food in Funeral Homes

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey Date:

\"funeralfood\"We\’ve noted in the past the enormous numbers of task forces and study groups created by the legislature this year.

On Thursday at 3 p.m., a task force examining whether Connecticut should have a uniform school calender will hold its organizational meeting.

Supporters say having all school districts in the state operate on the same annual calendar would encourage regionalism. The idea was promoted by the MORE Commission, which was formed by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey to find ways for municipalities to save money through greater cooperation.

Also coming up on the legislative calendar is another task force meeting, this one devoted to beverages and food in funeral homes.


State Rep. Mary Fritz Headed To White House With UConn Women\’s Team

by Categorized: Barack Obama, Brendan Sharkey Date:

Every year in the historic Hall of the House, longtime state Rep. Mary Fritz steps up to the microphone and lauds the University of Connecticut\’s women\’s basketball team on the annual Husky Day.

Now, Fritz will be headed to the White House on Wednesday with the team for a special reception with President Barack Obama.

A veteran lawmaker and assistant deputy Speaker, Fritz was asked by House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey to attend the 2 p.m. ceremony on his behalf.

\”I am really pleased to be accompanying the UConn women’s team to the White House and thank Speaker Sharkey for this honor,” Fritz said in a statement. “In addition to being great players and national champions for the eighth time, these women student athletes and their coaches are outstanding representatives of our state. They deserve this honor.” Continue reading

Sen. Joe Markley Says Legislature Is Simply Rubber Stamp On Hospital Veto

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

The state legislature took no action to override any of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy\’s eight vetoes during a special session Monday, and Sen. Joseph Markley says lawmakers are not doing their job.

\"Markley\"Markley was particularly concerned about a veto regarding hospitals that specifically impacted Waterbury Hospital and Bristol Hospital.

He is concerned that neither the House nor the Senate debated the issue Monday, but instead held short sessions – lasting minutes – before adjourning without overriding or discussing any vetoes.

\”I feel like today, as a legislature, effectively we punted,\’\’ Markley told reporters in the Capitol press room. \”We didn\’t hold up our end. We didn\’t try to become part of the conversation or part of the solution. We decided to stay on the sidelines.\’\’

\”It is a rubber stamp,\’\’ Markley, a Republican, said of the Democratic-controlled legislature. \”It is a refusal of the legislature to act like an equal branch of government. Every time we do that, we weaken our position. We\’re the ones that are elected to represent the people most directly, and so if we fail, we fail the population of Connecticut.\’\’

But House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, a Democrat, told Capitol Watch in an interview that the narrow purpose of Monday\’s session was to decide only whether the vetoes should be overridden. It was not a forum, he said, to discuss broader hospital issues on the merits. That can be done, he said, during the next regular session that starts in February. And there was no overwhelming desire in his 98-member caucus to override any of the vetoes, he said. Continue reading

Top Politicians Raising Raising Money For Fedele And Tong In Stamford Mayor\’s Race

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Brendan Sharkey, Michael Fedele, William Tong Date:

Top politicians are raising money for Republican Mike Fedele and Democrat William Tong in a marquee battle to become the mayor of Stamford – Connecticut\’s fastest-growing city.

Fedele is expected to face off in November against Tong, a lawmaker who has widespread support in the city. Their clash has gained attention in Hartford because they have played on larger stages in Connecticut politics. Fedele was a state legislator from his hometown before serving as lieutenant governor under Republican M. Jodi Rell. Tong has been a legislator since winning his first race in 2006, and he staged a statewide run last year for the U.S. Senate before dropping out of the race.

Former gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley will be holding a fundraiser next week at his Greenwich home for Fedele. Foley and Greenwich fundraiser L. Scott Frantz have both endorsed Fedele, a longtime Stamford resident who moved to the city more than 50 years ago from Italy at the age of three.

A second fundraiser for Fedele, hosted by former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and Stamford board of representatives deputy minority leader Harry Day, will be held in mid-July in Stamford. Day is an attorney who graduated from Yale before heading to Cornell law school. Continue reading

Too Little, Too Late for Juvenile Sentencing Bill

by Categorized: Brendan Sharkey, John Kissel Date:
A bill establishing an office of early childhood wasn\’t the only public policy casualty in the frenzied waning hours of the 2013 legislative session.
Another measure that lost its race against the clock on Wednesday was a criminal justice bill that had broad bipartisan support in the House but failed to come up for a vote on the Senate. Had it passed, the bill would give prisoners serving lengthy sentences for crimes they committed in youth a chance at freedom. It comes in response to three recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, including Miller v. Alabama, which holds that life sentences for offenders under 18 are unconstitutional and requires states to provide young prisoners with “a meaningful opportunity” to seek release.
Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican, said he had \”serious concerns\” about the bill — and he was also critical of the chamber\’s Democratic leaders to leave such an important issues to the final hours.
\”The bill\’s been up here in the Senate for at least a couple of weeks now,\’\’ he said in a brief interview a few hours before Wednesday\’s midnight adjournment. \”If the majority party was really keen on getting it through, they had time.\”