Assemblyman Steve Otis serves Sound Shore communities of Westchester County by using his work on local, county, state and federal issues and long-time leadership in the environmental community to win results and move issues of importance statewide and to the 91st Assembly District.
Steve helped initiate the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, the state grant program to assist municipalities in financing needed clean water projects. Since the creation of WIIA, the program has provided almost $1.8 billion in water grants: creating jobs, making environmental projects possible and making these projects more affordable for local taxpayers. To date, the program, with a new round of funding included in the 2022-23 state budget, has awarded grants to over 800 projects that creating 102,000 new jobs. The Assemblyman’s new proposal for a municipal stormwater grant program is included in the 2022 Environmental Bond Issue proposal.
Otis chairs the Assembly Science and Technology Committee. His initiative to create a state Digital Inclusion Grant program was included in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 state budgets. He is the leading advocate for digital inclusion programs in the state legislature. These programs provide broadband access, devices and training to individuals excluded from essential digital world most take for granted. These programs are the leading nationally recognized model for addressing Digital Equity issues based on race, age or economic ability. The committee has also co-sponsored Assembly hearings on electric vehicle charging infrastructure and the energy use and environmental impacts of the “proof of work mining” method cryptocurrency authentication.
Otis, who serves on the Assembly Education Committee, has been a strong advocate in the Assembly for increased state funding to school districts, especially for increasing Foundation Aid to school districts receiving a low percentage of the aid they are due. 2021 represented a watershed year on the Foundation Aid issue with a record statewide increase and a commitment to full funding by 2023. As a former Mayor, he has been active on a variety of issues affecting local governments that include ways to help localities become more efficient and lower costs to taxpayers. He has also been active on transportation and consumer issues, working to increase the state’s enforcement of deceptive marketing practices and violations of do-not-call registry rules.
Assemblyman Otis has also been the lead author of new laws on a variety of topics: legislation to make directing laser pointers at airplane cockpits illegal under state law, strengthening child labor law protections for minors working in the modeling industry, enacting rules to prevent dangerous accidents from falling soccer goals, expanding options for consumers holding annuities and increasing the state penalty for stealing a pet, which had not been changed in over 40 years.
A strong proponent of small business and buying local, Otis sponsors an annual small business conference focused on topics of interest to local retailers and entrepreneurs. He also authored a new law to increase the information available to members of Business Improvement Districts about the work of those organizations.
Assemblyman Otis sponsored a law to help in the identification of missing persons and the resolution of unsolved crimes. The new law, which went into effect on July 21, 2016, requires medical examiners to report information regarding unidentified remains to a US Department of Justice national missing persons database. Within a month of taking effect, the law was credited with the positive identification of a missing New Yorker. In 2017 and 2018, new legislation sponsored by the Assemblyman was signed into law to expand notice of all missing persons cases to the federal database.
In 2018 Otis sponsored Lulu and Leo’s Law that establishes the crime of misrepresentation by or on behalf of a caregiver. The new law was named for Lulu and Leo Krim who were murdered in 2012 at the hands of their nanny who had no previous experience caring for children. Before this change, there had been no legal duty for people to be accurate when presenting credentials or references to be hired as an at-home caregiver.
Assemblyman Otis has taken a hands-on approach in addressing unexpected challenges facing Westchester communities. He has made a priority of advocating for better storm resilience and recovery policies and assistance to help families and businesses. During Covid-19 the Assemblyman and his staff have worked to assist individuals, small businesses, local governments and school districts on the wide variety of health and operational issues that surface.
In March 2016, the Assemblyman received Audubon New York’s William Hoyt Environmental Excellence Award. In 2018 Assemblyman Otis received the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award from the New York Water Environment Association for his work on water quality funding.
In 2017 the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body AFL-CIO honored the Assemblyman for “his ongoing dedication to the labor movement and the working men and women in New York State.”
Before joining the Assembly, Otis served as Mayor of the City of Rye for 12 years from 1998 to 2009. He is the longest-serving Mayor in the city’s history and is also a former president of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association, on whose executive committee he served from 2002 to 2012.
In state government, Assemblyman Otis served as long-time Counsel and Chief of Staff to Senator Suzi Oppenheimer until his election to the Assembly. Before joining Senator Oppenheimer in 1985, Otis served as Senate Fellow and Legislative Director to State Senator Jeremy S. Weinstein from 1980 to1985.
Assemblyman Otis is also a past chair of the City of Rye Conservation Commission and has served on the Board of Directors of the NYS Association of Conservation Commissions for 19 years. He has also served on the Westchester County Flood Action Task Force, as vice chair of the Long Island Sound Watershed Intermunicipal Council, vice chair of the Westchester County Environmental Management Council, and co-chair of the City of Rye’s Project Impact FEMA program. Otis has been a member of the Stewardship Committee of AudubonNY since 2009.
Otis has been effective on numerous issues affecting local government, education, traffic and pedestrian safety, emergency management, recreation, senior citizens, environmental protection, infrastructure repairs, historic preservation, property tax relief and matters of concern to women and families.
In addition to serving as chair of the Science and Technology Committee, the Assemblyman serves as a member of the following Assembly Committees: Education; Local Governments; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; and Environmental Conservation. He previously served on the Libraries and Education Technology Committee and Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee in the Assembly.
In addition, he serves on the Assembly’s Climate Change Task Force and on the Assembly Working Group on Transitioning beyond the Covid-19 Economy. He also serves on the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.
Otis previously served as chair of the Assembly Majority Conference and as chair of the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management. He served as a member of the Assembly Work Group on Legislative Process, Operations and Public Participation, whose recommendations for improving legislative procedures were implemented by the Assembly.
The 91st Assembly District in Westchester County includes the communities along the Long Island Sound: Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook.
The Assemblyman is a graduate of Hobart & William Smith Colleges and holds a master’s degree in public administration from NYU and a law degree from Hofstra University School of Law.
Steve and his wife Martha, an executive in the book publishing business, reside in the City of Rye.