Chair, Judiciary Committee
Helene E. Weinstein was first elected to the Assembly in 1980. Ms. Weinstein was educated in the New York City public school system, received her Bachelor's degree in economics from American University and received a law degree from the New England School of Law. A full-time Assemblywoman, her district includes the Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Flatlands, Canarsie and East Flatbush communities in Brooklyn. Ms. Weinstein chairs the Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary. She is the first woman in New York State's history to be appointed to this position. The Judiciary Committee presides over virtually all legislation affecting the state's judicial system, Family and Domestic Relations Law, Trusts and Estates, as well as civil practice in the courts. Ms. Weinstein has sponsored major reforms in the state's jury system and is the leading proponent of ensuring civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers. Ms. Weinstein led the successful effort to increase 18B and Law Guardian rates. Ms. Weinstein is also a member of the Court Facilities Capital Review Board. In addition, she is recognized as the Assembly’s leading advocate for women and children, having served as Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women's Issues for seven years. For over two decades Ms. Weinstein has led efforts in Albany to protect victims of domestic violence. She sponsored the Family Court Fair Access law of 2008, which reformed New York State’s outdated law, expanding access to civil orders of protection to domestic violence victims in dating and intimate relationships. Ms. Weinstein also sponsored New York State's landmark Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1994, which significantly changed the way police and courts deal with domestic violence. Ms. Weinstein has also fought hard to protect children from domestic violence abuse as a sponsor of a law requiring judges to consider domestic violence in child custody cases. As the sponsor of our state's Child Support Standards Act, she was a leader in establishing statewide guidelines to ensure that our children receive fair and adequate support. In addition, she has fought to reclaim billions of past due child support. During her tenure as Assemblywoman, Ms. Weinstein has sponsored additional significant state laws, including: a law declaring surrogate parenting contracts void and against public policy; a law establishing a permanent funding source for domestic violence shelters and funding guidelines for batterers' programs; a law making discrimination in private clubs illegal; the rape shield extension law to protect crime victims; a law extending the right of agency fee deductions to all public employee organizations; a law allowing qualified public employees to take advantage of the improved benefits of the Tier I pension plan; a law mandating seat belts on school buses; a law prohibiting junk food from being served in school before the end of lunch period; a law requiring a court rule to establish caseload caps for law guardians; and the 2008 Exempt Income Protection Act, which closes a loophole that allowed debt collectors and credit card companies to use "restraining notices" to wrongfully freeze the bank accounts of New Yorkers who receive income that is exempt from debt collection under federal and state law, such as Social Security, veterans, disability and pension benefits. Assemblywoman Weinstein has been honored on numerous occasions for her efforts to protect the rights of senior citizens. She is the sponsor of a law that sets standards for nursing and adult homes and an author of a nationally-cited protective services law. She has been instrumental in enriching the lives of seniors who are stricken with Alzheimer's Disease by creating and funding Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Centers throughout the state. Ms. Weinstein is renowned for her advocacy work on behalf of veterans, crime victims, and the disabled. Each year, she secures funding for various community, senior youth and school organizations to provide essential services to residents in the 41st Assembly District. Assemblywoman Weinstein has received countless awards and honors including: the Legislator of the Year Award from the NYC Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association; an award from the Public Employees Federation for her outstanding contributions in protecting the interests of PEF members; the Legislative Leadership Award presented by the Kings County Council of Jewish War Veterans; the Peace at Home Award and the Legislator of the Year Award for service on behalf of Battered Women and their Children from the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the New York State Bar Association's Howard A. Levine Award for her work to protect and promote the rights of children in New York; an award from Day One (formerly Break the Cycle: Empowering Youth to End Domestic Violence) for her contributions in protecting domestic violence victims; Caribbean Women’s Health Association Award of Appreciation; and the Margaret Sanger Award presented by Family Planning Advocates, Ms Weinstein has been recognized by Project Chernobyl and the Russian American Heritage Foundation for her work on behalf of the Russian-American community and, in 2008 was recognized as one of the 30 leaders in the anti-domestic violence movement over the past 30 years by the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Ms. Weinstein is also a member of numerous civic and service groups. Ms. Weinstein currently serves on the Governor's Commission on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and previously served as an appointee to the New York State Child Support Commission. Additionally, Assemblywoman Weinstein previously chaired the Assembly Committees on Governmental Employees and Election Law and served as the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition, as well as the Legislative Women's Caucus. Standing Committee Assignments 2009: Judiciary (Chair); Aging; Codes; Rules; Ways and Means.