Biography

Harvey Weisenberg
Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Island) is the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly. A lifelong resident of Long Beach, New York, Mr. Weisenberg graduated from Long Beach High School in 1952 and went on to attend Niagara University on a basketball scholarship. Mr. Weisenberg graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1958, and received his Master of Science degree from Hofstra University. He also holds a Professional Diploma in Administration from C.W. Post University.

A former police officer and PBA President in the City of Long Beach, Assemblyman Weisenberg was also involved in the field of education for more than 20 years, first as a teacher, then as an administrator. Mr. Weisenberg was elected to the Long Beach City Council in 1976 and served as President of that body in 1977 and 1980. He was elected to the New York State Assembly on February 14, 1989 in a special election. Mr. Weisenberg chaired the Assembly's Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse from 1998 to 2000, when Speaker Sheldon Silver appointed him to the leadership position of Deputy Majority Whip of the Assembly. His 2003 appointment as Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore reflects the Speaker’s confidence and trust in Mr. Weisenberg’s leadership abilities.

As a public servant who believes in an accountable and transparent state government, Mr. Weisenberg has supported every piece of ethics reform legislation that has come before him. In 2011 he sponsored a bill to establish an independent redistricting panel to redraw Assembly, Senate, and Congressional district lines based on geography and the needs of the communities. In 2010, he was named a “Hero of Reform” by Ed Koch’s reform advocacy organization NY Uprising.

Fighting for adequate state funding of public education to offset the cost levied on taxpayers is a priority of Mr. Weisenberg’s. He is a staunch friend of police, fire, and other first responder organizations, working hard to make sure they have the equipment and support they need to protect the communties in his district. Mr. Weisenberg strongly backed many anti-crime measures enacted in 2006 – including efforts to significantly strengthen New York’s laws that punish sex offenders and other violent criminals. He authored legislation, signed into law, that prohibits sex offenders from entering schools or child care facilities and increased penalties on sex offenders who fail to register in their communities. In 2011, he secured passage of a bill that adds attempted unlawful surveillance to the list of sexual offenses. This law also enables local law enforcement to provide the addresses of Level 2 sex offenders to entites such as schools and day care centers.

Thanks to Harvey Weisenberg, New York has some of the toughest DWI laws in the nation. In 2009, his bill – “Leandra’s Law – made it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle and mandated that every person convicted of a DWI in the state have an ignition interlock installed as a condition of sentence. He is also responsible for increasing penalties to drivers who leave the scene of an accident and for creating the crimes of aggravated vehicular assault and aggravated vehicular homicide. Because of the rapidly growing number of deaths and serious injury caused by drivers texting behind the wheel, Assemblyman Weisenberg introduced a bill – signed in 2011 – making texting, or the use of any portable electronic devices, a primary violation.

Throughout his legislative career, Mr. Weisenberg has been a staunch advocate for people with disabilities. He is dedicated to removing barriers, improving access, and enhancing the quality of life for all that are physically and mentally challenged. He has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for agencies and organizations in his district that work with and provide services to adults and children with physical and mental disabilities. Because of the unprecendented growth in the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, in 2006, Mr. Weisenberg introduced a bill, later signed into law, requiring anyone applying for a license as a special education teacher or school administrator to complete course work in the needs of children with autism. He also championed legislation that has expanded health insurance coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Assemblyman Weisenberg takes great pleasure in participating in special events that allow children with autism and other disorders to experience the thrill of surfing.

Mr. Weisenberg is sensitive to the issues facing parents of children with special needs who must entrust the care of their son or daughter to other people. “In most circumstances, caretakers are dedicated and caring individuals,” he noted. “But unfortunately, that is not always the case – especially if the child has limited or no verbal skills.” In 2006, he wrote and achieved enactment of legislation allowing mental health facilities to conduct nationwide criminal history checks of employees. In 2007, he passionately championed “Jonathan’s Law,” created to ensure that families with a mentally disabled child receiving care at a mental hygiene facility have swift notification and access to reports of abuse their child may have suffered. Mr. Weisenberg is also crafting legislation to give families the ability to seek justice if their loved one has been abused. Another bill introduced by the Assemblyman will prevent abusive caregivers from being able to move from job to job at various facilities.

Mr. Weisenberg was instrumental in opening Angela’s House – Long Island’s first residential facility for medically fragile children, and led the effort to build a respite suite for family members of children with cancer at Stony Brook Hospital’s Childhood Cancer Center. As a result of his perseverance, every New York State school, health club, and building where 1,000 or more people are gathered are required to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on premises. Since this law has been in effect, many lives have been saved because an AED was immediately available to someone in cardiac distress.

Assemblyman Weisenberg has obtained millions of dollars in state funds to support the institutions at the heart of the communities in his district: schools, hospitals, libraries, police departments, fire departments, community and recreation centers, as well as programs that serve children, the elderly, and those with disabilities. He is supportive of and involved in many civic, philanthropic, and fraternal organizations, such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, Nassau County Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Long Beach Hospital, Long Beach Breast Cancer Coalition, Long Beach Polar Bears, the American Legion, the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, United Cerebral Palsy Association, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE), Long Island Arthritis Foundation, Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the March of Dimes, and the U.S. Lifeguard Association

Because of his ongoing work to improve the lives of others, Assemblyman Weisenberg has received numerous honors and awards. Most recently, he was honored by the Stop DWI Coordinators Association (Senator William T. Smith Award) , AAA New York, Let All the Children Play, and the American Kennel Club’s Meet the Breeds. He received the Golden Trumpet Award from the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Police Chief’s Benevolent Association. He was Honorary Chair of the Friedberg Jewish Community Center’s Sunrise Day Camp, the first and only day camp in New York State for children who are being treated for cancer and cancer-related disorders. Assemblyman and Mrs. Weisenberg were overjoyed to welcome campers on Sunrise’s opening day in 2006. The Weisenbergs received the Humanitarian Award in recognition of the many years of support of the Stephanie Joyce Kahn Foundation. Additionaly, he was honored by the American Heart Association and the Association for Children with Down Syndrome. He received a lifetime membership award for outstanding service to children and youth from the Nassau County Regional P.T.A.; a Community Service award from the Link Counseling Center of East Rockaway; a Humanitarian Award from the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education of Nassau County; and special awards from the Nassau County Jewish War Veterans; the National Council of Jewish Women's Peninsula Section; the Hofstra Alumni Association; the East Rockaway Kiwanis, and numerous law enforcement awards. He is Honorary Chief of the 2nd Battalion, an Honorary Fire Chief of the Inwood Fire Department, and the first Honorary Chief of the Atlantic Beach Rescue Unit.

Assemblyman Weisenberg and his wife, Ellen, reside in Long Beach. They have five children and six grandchildren.

Standing Committee Assignments 2011: Banks; Correction; Education; Environmental Conservation; Mental Health; Transportation.