Joan Hartley

State Senator
15th District: Middlebury, Naugatuck, Waterbury
Social media
Commerce (co-chair); Appropriations (vice chair); Insurance and Real Estate (vice chair); Executive and Legislative Nominations; Legislative Management
Previous Positions
Charter Revision Commission, House of Representatives
B.A., Elms College; M.A., Trinity College
Public Financing
To appreciate Joan Hartley's conservative Democratic politics is to know that she twice succeeded Republicans to win open seats in the House and Senate. In the Republican landslide year of 1984, she won her first legislative race, succeeding John G. Rowland, who was elected to Congress.

Hartley's conservatism wears well in her Naugatuck Valley district, but it often has left her on the outs in the Senate Democratic caucus — an issue of crucial importance after the 2016 election produced an evenly divided Senate. Hartley was the only Democrat in the Senate to join Republicans in blocking the confirmation of Andrew J. McDonald as chief justice of the Supreme Court in 2018.

Hartley has been a frequent defector on fiscal issues. In 2017, she was one of three Democrats in the Senate to side with Republicans to defeat a Democratic budget proposal. After leaving Democrats one vote short on a veto override during the administration of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, she was stripped of her post as co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee in 2009. Another factor was her embarrassing leaders with her objections to a major bonding program for the Connecticut State University system.

She was among the Democrats who voted against the imposition of the state's first broad-based income tax in 1991, the year that independent Lowell P. Weicker Jr. took office as governor amid a fiscal crisis. In 2011, Hartley was no more sympathetic to a new Democratic governor who needed new revenue. She was one of three Democrats in the Senate to vote against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's $1.5 billion tax increase.

In 2009, she did vote with Democrats to override Rell's veto of the Sustinet health program, but she disappeared from the chamber the same day on an attempt to override Rell's veto of a health-care pooling bill. Without her vote, the override failed by a vote. In 2008, she voted to increase the minimum wage, but opposed mandating that private employers offer paid sick days.

She was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against sweeping reforms in 2005 that created public financing for campaigns and banned contributions from lobbyists and contractors.

More recently, Hartley was the only Senate Democrat to vote against minimum-wage increase bills in 2013 and 2014. In 2011, she was one of four Democrats to vote against the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and one of five to vote against a paid sick days bill that passed by a single vote. In 2012, she was one of two Senate Democrats to vote against repeal of the death penalty and one of three to vote against the legalization of the production and sale of marijuana for limited medical uses.

Hartley lives in Waterbury with her husband, Jim. They have two children.
Election history
Hartley succeeded Republicans as she won open seats in the House and Senate. In the Republican landslide year of 1984, she won a House seat, succeeding a future congressman and governor, Republican John G. Rowland. She won an open Senate seat in 2000, succeeding Republican Thomas F. Upson.
Most recent election
Joan V Hartley D 20312
James K Russel I 4407
Financial disclosure
In a Statement of Financial Interest filed in 2014, Hartley reported no outside income. Her husband had income from his law firm, Drubner Hartley & Hellman, and a financial firm, Verus Financial. They reported owning securities through a Merrill Lynch account, but did not list individual stocks or mutual funds.
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