Stephen M. Sweeney

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Stephen Sweeney
Sweeney 2014-03-05 22-53.jpg
President of the New Jersey Senate
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 12, 2010
Preceded by Richard Codey
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 3rd district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 8, 2002
Preceded by Raymond Zane
Majority Leader of the New Jersey Senate
In office
January 8, 2008 – January 12, 2010
Preceded by Bernard Kenny
Succeeded by Barbara Buono
Personal details
Born (1959-06-11) June 11, 1959 (age 55)
Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Website Government website

Stephen M. Sweeney (born June 11, 1959) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has served in the New Jersey State Senate since 2002, where he represents the 3rd Legislative District.[1] On November 23, 2009, Sweeney was selected as Senate President-designate, replacing Richard Codey. Sweeney took office as Senate President on January 12, 2010.

Personal life, education, and early political career[edit]

Sweeney was born on June 11, 1959 in Camden, New Jersey and attended Pennsauken High School although he did not graduate due to difficulty with the coursework. He later obtained his GED which he described as "the pinnacle of his academic achievements". He is currently the General Organizer for the International Association of Ironworkers.[1]

Senator Sweeney and his wife, Patti, were married in 1986. They live in West Deptford Township, New Jersey with their two children, Stephen and Lauren.[2]

Sweeney served on the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders, a post he held since 1997, and served as the Freeholder Director from January 6, 2006, until he left office in 2010.[2] He simultaneously held a seat in the New Jersey Senate and as Freeholder, a practice known as "double dipping" that was allowed under a grandfather clause in the state law enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine in September 2007 that prevents dual-office-holding but allows those who had held both positions as of February 1, 2008, to retain both posts.[3]

New Jersey Senate[edit]

Elections[edit]

2001

Sweeney defeated eight-term Republican incumbent State Senator Raymond Zane 51%-49%.[4] The race was the most expensive legislative race in New Jersey history at the time, totaling $2.4 million, with Sweeney spending an individual record $1.8 million to triple Zane's spending of $624,000.[5] The record stood until 2003, when $4 million was spent in Fred H. Madden's successful race to unseat George Geist.[6][7]

2003

Sweeney won re-election to a second term defeating Phillip Rhudy 54%-45%.[8]

2007

Sweeney won re-election to a third term defeating Mark Cimino 57%-40%.[9]

2011

Sweeney won re-election to a fourth term defeating Michael Mulligan 56%-44%.[10]

Legislative career[edit]

Sweeney sponsored a 2002 law allowing municipalities and other public entities beginning a construction project to enter into a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), an agreement that establishes the terms and conditions of employment and prohibits the use of strikes and lockouts, which can save money by reducing cost overruns and work stoppages, and contribute to decreased labor unrest.[11]

A 2005 law Sweeney sponsored enabled the Delaware River and Bay Authority to establish an ethanol plant in Southern New Jersey, the first of its kind in any of the Mid-Atlantic states, a project intended to create jobs for South Jersey and supply a new market for farmers in the region.[12]

Sweeney has sponsored laws to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage[13] and create the state’s Paid Family Leave program.[14]

In response to heightened security warnings around potential targets such as chemical and nuclear plants since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, Senator Sweeney pushed to require potentially vulnerable facilities to implement security standards and to explore possible safer technologies.[15] He also sponsored legislation which would allow security guards at nuclear plants to carry assault weapons and high-powered ammunition to better protect the security of New Jersey residents. The bill, which was signed into law in September 2003, requires guards to undergo mandated training in the use of the firearms before getting access to the weapons.[16]

Legislation sponsored by Sweeney and signed into law provides state pensions to surviving family members of police, firefighters and emergency services workers who die in the line of duty,[17][18] as well as the law that removes the remarriage prohibition to receive death benefits for spouses of police officers and firefighters killed while serving the public good.[19][20] Senator Sweeney also co-sponsored the law providing health benefits to New Jersey National Guard members who serve for 30 days or more on state active duty.[21][22]

On June 1, 2006, Senator Sweeney and two Assembly Democrats, Paul Moriarty (D, 4th legislative district) and Jerry Green (D, 22nd legislative district), held a press conference to announce their support for cuts of as much as 15% to New Jersey state worker salaries and benefits, as part of an effort to avoid a one-point increase in the state's sales tax proposed by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine that had been supported by unions representing state government workers.[23] He also advocated that those workers affected by the state shutdown in July 2006 should not be able to collect pay for the time they were furloughed, saying that he would have voted to reject the budget if he had known that state workers would be paid for the time they were not working.[24]

He supported efforts to ban the hazardous gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) which has been proven to contaminate ground water and private wells.[25]

Sweeney sponsored "Maggie's Law," which establishes driving while seriously fatigued as a form of driver recklessness.[26] The first law of its kind in the United States, "Maggie's Law" was signed by Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey in August 2003. It requires that sleep deprived drivers, who have been up for 24 hours or more, face up to 10 years in jail and fines up to $150,000 if they get into fatal car accidents caused by their lack of sleep. Senator Sweeney first pursued the legislation when he was contacted by the mother of Maggie McDonnell, a Washington Township resident who was killed in a car accident by a driver who had been up for over 30 hours without sleeping.[27]

A long-time advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities, Senator Sweeney has sponsored laws that removed references to “retardation” in state statutes[28] and created a statewide registry of offenders who abused individuals with developmental disabilities.[29]

Sweeney has sponsored legislation to expand the development of offshore wind energy, making New Jersey a leader in the development of this alternative energy source and paving the way for the state to become the nation’s wind-energy manufacturing hub.[30]

Senator Sweeney was selected by the Senate Democratic Caucus to serve as Majority Leader on November 8, 2007[31]

Senate Presidency[edit]

On the afternoon of November 23, 2009, the New Jersey Senate Democrats chose Sweeney as State Senate President over the incumbent, former governor Richard Codey. He took office on January 12, 2010.[32] In the absence of the governor and lieutenant governor, Sweeney served as acting governor of New Jersey during the eastern seaboard storm of December 2010.[33]

In January 2010, Senate President-elect Sweeney abstained when the New Jersey Senate voted on the question of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Sweeney called his abstention a mistake and said that the issue was a civil rights issue, not a religious issue.[34] In 2012, Senate President Sweeney was one of the prime sponsors of legislation that would establish marriage equality for all New Jersey residents.[35] The bill was approved in both houses of the Legislature, but ultimately vetoed by Governor Chris Christie, who instead favors putting the issue up for public referendum.[36]

In 2010, Senator Sweeney helped design and pass thirty bills, known collectively as “Back to Work NJ,” that aimed to help create jobs and economic growth in New Jersey.[37]

In 2011, Sweeney proposed sweeping reforms to the public employee pension and health benefits systems that he estimates will save taxpayers over $120 billion over a 30-year period.[38] Sweeney also helped craft the state’s two-percent property tax cap in order to control rising property taxes.[39] Senator Sweeney was named as a “Politician Who’s Ahead of the Curve” by Philadelphia Magazine in 2011 for his continued support of shared services between local government units.[40]

Together with Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. and fellow Democrat Raymond Lesniak, Sweeney sponsored Senate Bill S2664, the "Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act" in 2011, which Verizon says will encourage the firm to create additional jobs in the state, freeing the firm from regulations established when it was the landline monopoly requiring it to pay for service outages and to provide Government-access television (GATV) channels for municipalities on cable TV. The New Jersey State League of Municipalities has opposed the provisions on elimination of Public-access television channels and on rules requiring free Internet accessed for municipal and school facilities. Consumer groups argue that the bill would lead to lower-quality service and increased rates, though Verizon promised in a letter sent to the bill's sponsors that committed the company to keeping rates level for basic service in the first two years following approval into law.[41]

Following Governor Christie's use of the line item veto on the state's 2011 budget, Sweeney was quoted by The Star-Ledger as being incensed. Two days later, Sweeney was unapologetic about what The Star-Ledger described as a "tirade" against Christie, saying "[...] I don't apologize for it. The governor was wrong to hurt people," in response to further questions about the earlier reports which quoted him as describing Christie as a "rotten bastard," a "punk," and "Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life."[42] Among the Governor's cuts was funding for tax credits and health care for the working poor, women's health funding, AIDS medication funding, and mental health services.[43]

In January 2013, two months after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, Sweeney suggested that Governor Christie "got lucky" because the hurricane distracted voters from the economy. Christie "prayed a lot and a storm came," Sweeney said. He was heavily criticized for his remark, and a spokesman for Christie called it "politics at its worst".[44]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Senator Sweeney is active in a variety of local organizations and has received numerous accolades from business leaders, volunteer organizations, labor advocates, environmentalists and other important organizations from around New Jersey, including the 2009 Partners in Advocacy Award from the Arc of New Jersey[45] and the 2009 Legislative Excellence Award from the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.[46] In April 2010, Senator Sweeney was honored by the New Jersey Travel Industry Association with their Friend of Tourism Award.[47] Senate President Sweeney was also presented the Outstanding State Legislator Award by the NJ Veterans of Foreign Wars in January 2011.[48] On April 28, 2011, Senator Sweeney was presented with the Legislator of the Year Award by the New Jersey Conference of Mayors.[49] Senator Sweeney was also honored in 2011 as “Person of the Year” by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Construction Managers Association of America (CMAA).[2] In 2011, he was named as a “Legislator of the Year” by the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce,[50] as well as the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey.[2] On September 22, 2011, Senator Sweeney was honored as “Regional Leader of the Year” by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.[51] In December 2011, Senator Sweeney was honored with the “Paul L. Troast Public Service Award” by the NJ Business and Industry Association for his efforts to help spur economic growth and job creation in New Jersey,[52] and on March 30, 2012, he was awarded the “Humanitarian Award” by the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Jersey.[53]

District 3[edit]

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 3rd Legislative District for the 2012-2013 (215th) Legislative Session are:[54]

Election history[edit]

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephen M. Sweeney (incumbent) 25,299 55.6%
Republican Michael M. Mulligan 20,197 44.4%
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephen M. Sweeney (incumbent) 29,908 59.2%
Republican Mark Cimino 20,645 40.8%
Democratic hold

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Senator Sweeney's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed March 14, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Stephen M. Sweeney Biography, Third Legislative District. Accessed March 15, 2013.
  3. ^ via Associated Press. "N.J. Lawmakers keep double dipping", WPVI-TV, March 4, 2008. Accessed June 4, 2009.
  4. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2001 General Election, New Jersey Department of State. Accessed August 27, 2012.
  5. ^ Smith, Joseph P. "Zane paid a price for defying the party", Asbury Park Press, September 24, 2003. Accessed May 23, 2008. "The Zane-Sweeney race in the 3rd District cost $2.4 million, making it the most expensive legislative race in state history. Sweeney spent $1.8 million; Zane, $624,000, state election records show."
  6. ^ "Camden Co. Senate Too Close To Call", WCAU, 2003. Accessed August 28, 2012. "Even still, Democrat Fred Madden -- who spent nearly $3 million, almost twice the record for a legislative race -- claimed victory over Republican George Geist."
  7. ^ Gurney, Kaitlin; and Ruderman, Wendy. "Madden's $3 million race sets N.J. mark Democrats are pouring money into his bid to unseat Sen. George Geist. Observers are taken aback.", The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 30, 2003. Accessed August 28, 2012. "Democrat Fred Madden has amassed $3.3 million - more than any other legislative candidate in New Jersey history - in his quest to go from career state trooper to state senator.... Madden's campaign has shattered the $1.8 million state fund-raising record set in 2001 by another South Jersey Democrat, State Sen. Stephen Sweeney."
  8. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2003 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 2, 2003. Accessed August 27, 2012.
  9. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 21, 2012.
  10. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed January 7, 2012.
  11. ^ Saharko, Peter. "STATE SEN. SWEENEY BACKS BILL FOR LABOR", The Press of Atlantic City, February 15, 2002. Accessed January 7, 2012. "The measure would let state, local and county governments set terms of employment beforehand and prohibit strikes and lockouts. Public entities would be able to enter into project labor agreements when completing a public-works project under legislation sponsored by state Sen. Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester."
  12. ^ "A Hotbed of Residential and Commercial Activity", Gloucester County, New Jersey, March 21, 2005. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  13. ^ Sweeney Statement on Minimum Wage Increase, New Jersey Senate Democrats website, September 29, 2005
  14. ^ Paid Family Leave Legislation is Now Law,New Jersey Senate Democrats website, May 2, 2008
  15. ^ Fifield, Adam. "Sweeney joining plant-safety push", The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 2003. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  16. ^ S-1453, New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, introduced May 13, 2002. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  17. ^ S-1432, New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, introduced March 26, 2002. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  18. ^ Saharko, Peter. "STATE LINES / CHANGING FACE OF N.J. LEGISLATURE", The Press of Atlantic City, November 12, 2001. Accessed August 28, 2012. "For Sweeney, transportation and the environment are important issues, but a passion of his involves ensuring police and fire pensions for the spouses of those killed in the line of duty."
  19. ^ S-1434, New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, introduced March 26, 2002. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  20. ^ McAleer, Pete. "LAW SAVES AID TO COP WIDOWS", The Press of Atlantic City, September 13, 2003. Accessed August 28, 2012. "It eliminates the remarriage penalty for spouses of state troopers, police, firefighters and emergency responders killed in the line of duty, allowing spouses to continue to collect pension benefits if they remarry. State Sen. Stephen Sweeney and Assemblymen Doug Fisher and John Burzichelli, all D-Camden, Gloucester, sponsored the bill, which had in the Statehouse for a decade."
  21. ^ SENATE, No. 2507 210th LEGISLATURE Introduced May 15, 2003, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed August 28, 2012. "Provides State-paid health care benefits coverage through SHBP for certain National Guard members called to State active duty for 30 days or more."
  22. ^ Governor Signs New Laws Enhancing Benefits for Active National Guard Members, Governor of New Jersey, August 1, 2003. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  23. ^ Ung, Elisa. "Sweeney to N.J. workers: Cut pay: The senator, a labor leader, said he was angered by union support for an N.J. sales-tax increase", The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 2006. Accessed August 28, 2012. "Democratic State Sen. Stephen M. Sweeney, a major union leader from Gloucester County, shocked state employee unions yesterday by calling on their members to take a 15 percent cut in salaries and benefits.... Sweeney said he was angered by a union flyer that asked legislators to support a proposed increase in the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent - 'so that,' he said, 'state workers don't have to experience the pain that every taxpayer in the state is going to experience.'"
  24. ^ Pillets, Jeff. "Furloughed state workers to get all their back pay", The Record (Bergen County), July 11, 2006. Accessed August 28, 2012. "'If I knew they were going to pay everybody like this, I would not have voted for the budget,' said Sen. Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat who represents voters in several South Jersey counties."
  25. ^ Sweeney Measure to Ban 'MTBE' Clears Senate, New Jersey Senate Democrats website, June 27, 2005.
  26. ^ Senate, Bill No. 1644, State of New Jersey, 210th Legislature, introduced June 13, 2002.
  27. ^ McDonnell, Carole.Manifesting Maggie's Law, Sleep Review: the Journal for Sleep Specialists. January / February 2004.
  28. ^ Senate President Sweeney Persons with Developmental Disabilities Bill Signing, NJ Senate Democrats' YouTube Channel, August 16, 2010
  29. ^ Sweeney Bill Creating Registry to Protect Developmentally Disabled Signed into Law, New Jersey Senate Democrats website, April 30, 2010
  30. ^ Governor Christie Signs Offshore Wind Economic Development Act to Spur Economic Growth, Encourage Energy as Industry August 19, 2010
  31. ^ "Codey and Sweeney Elected to Lead Senate, New Jersey Senate Democratic press release, November 8, 2007. Accessed on August 28, 2012
  32. ^ Margolin, Josh. "Democrats vote N.J. Sen. Stephen Sweeney in as Senate president", The Star-Ledger, November 23, 2009. Accessed January 7, 2012. "Senate Democrats emerged from a Statehouse meeting room a few minutes ago, saying Sen. Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has been voted Senate president, replacing Richard Codey, the Essex County Democrat who long led the Senate's Democratic caucus. Codey left the second-floor caucus room at 2:50 p.m. and made only a brief comment to reporters waiting outside."
  33. ^ Lisa Fleisher (December 27, 2010). "New Jersey’s Acting Governor Juggles Blizzard Aftermath". Wall Street Journal Metropolis. Retrieved December 28, 2010. 
  34. ^ Spoto, MaryAnn. "Sweeney: N.J. gay marriage fight will be with Christie, not Legislature, Star Ledger, January 10, 2012. Accessed August 28, 2012. "With his abstention two years ago, Sweeney helped defeat a same-sex marriage bill that came up in the waning days of the lame-duck administration of Gov. Jon Corzine, who had pledged to sign it if the legislature passed it. Since then, Sweeney has said he made a mistake and should have voted for the measure because, he said, it’s a matter of civil rights, not a religious issue."
  35. ^ Senate Dems Announce New Push for Marriage Equality, NJ Senate Democrats' YouTube Channel, January 9, 2012
  36. ^ "Gov. Christie follows through on promise to veto gay marriage bill" Associated Press, February 18, 2012.
  37. ^ NJ legislators advance package of jobs bills, The Associated Press, January 7, 2011
  38. ^ Sweeney: updated website will provide info on changing pension reform ideas, Gloucester County Times, June 14, 2011
  39. ^ NJ governor signs property tax cap bill, Associated Press, July 14, 2010
  40. ^ Politician Who's Ahead of the Curve: Steve Sweeney, Philadelphia Magazine
  41. ^ Staff. "Telecommunications bill ignites debate", Courier Post, March 21, 2011. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  42. ^ Friedman, Matt. "N.J. Senate leader Sweeney won't apologize for his tirade against Gov. Christie", The Star-Ledger, July 5, 2011. Accessed August 28, 2012. "In The Sunday Star-Ledger, Sweeney called Christie, among other things, a 'rotten bastard,' a 'punk' and 'Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life."
  43. ^ Moran Tom. "Sweeney unleashes his fury as N.J. budget battle turns personal", The Star Ledger, July 3, 2011. Accessed August 28, 2012.
  44. ^ Friedman, Matt. "Sweeney: Gov. Christie 'prayed a lot' and 'got lucky' when Hurricane Sandy hit". nj.com. January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  45. ^ Sweeney Receives Partners in Advocacy Award from Arc of New Jersey, New Jersey Senate Democrats website, August 28, 2009
  46. ^ Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney Honored with Community College Legislative Excellence Award New Jersey Council of County Colleges, June 16, 2009
  47. ^ Senate President Sweeney Honored with 'Friend of Tourism Award' at Annual Conference, New Jersey Senate Democrats website, April 15, 2010
  48. ^ State VFW Honors Sweeney, West Deptford Patch, February 12, 2011
  49. ^ Sweeney Honored as Legislator of the Year by New Jersey Conference of Mayors, NJ Senate Democrats' Facebook feed, April 29, 2011
  50. ^ Chamber names 4 lawmakers “Legislators of the Year”, Asbury Park Press, August 24, 2011
  51. ^ DVRPC Honors Regional Programs and Leaders Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission website, September 2011
  52. ^ Sweeney Honored By New Jersey Business & Industry Association, NJ Senate Democrats' Facebook feed, December 13, 2011
  53. ^ Boys and Girls Clubs in NJ, Summer 2012 Newsletter
  54. ^ Legislative Roster 2012-2013 Session, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed June 21, 2012.
  55. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed January 7, 2012.
  56. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 21, 2012.

External links[edit]

New Jersey Senate
Preceded by
Raymond Zane
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 3rd district

2002–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Bernard Kenny
Majority Leader of the New Jersey Senate
2008–2010
Succeeded by
Barbara Buono
Preceded by
Richard Codey
President Leader of the New Jersey Senate
2010–present
Incumbent