Brooklyn Lawmaker To Head Powerful Assembly Committee

ALBANY (AP/Hamodia) -

A Midwood assemblywoman with deep ties to the Orthodox community was named head of a powerful committee charged with overseeing the budget, taxes and spending.

Helene Weinstein, a Democrat, will be the first woman to lead the Assembly’s powerful Ways and Means Committee. She will take over as committee chair from Assemblyman Denny Farrell, who retired this year after leading the committee for more than two decades.

Weinstein was first elected to the Legislature in 1980 and now serves as chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee. She is known as a strong advocate on issues affecting children and women and has sponsored several laws aimed at helping the Orthodox community overcome discrimination in special education, yeshivah busing and tuition aid.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie cited Weinstein’s “extensive” knowledge of the budget when he picked her to lead the critical committee.

“I am humbled by the historic opportunity to lend new perspective and solutions to the needs facing our families and communities,” Weinstein said in a statement on her selection. “I have always believed that diversity in leadership is critical to achieving a government that is both inclusive and responsive to today’s challenges.”

The committee’s Senate counterpart, the Senate Finance Committee, is chaired by Sen. Catharine Young, an Olean Republican. She is the first woman to hold that position.