About Steve Otis
Steve Otis is serving in his fourth term in the State Assembly where he has developed a strong record of accomplishment on issues affecting Westchester and the entire state. Steve is known as a knowledgeable advocate for education, local governments and the environment and for passing legislation on a variety of issues.
Five years ago Steve helped initiate the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, an innovative new state grant program to assist municipalities in financing needed clean water projects. The program has grown dramatically each year and has now awarded almost $1.2 billion in state grants to local governments since it was established. In 2019 the $416 million granted to local governments made the program larger than the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, which spends $300 million per year on other environmental programs. The program has awarded funding to every Long Island Sound coastal community in Westchester that Steve represents.
Steve has been a strong advocate in the Assembly for increased state funding to school districts and on numerous education policy issues. He serves on the Assembly Education Committee and has won additional state funding for the school districts in the 91st Assembly District. As a former Mayor, he has been active on a variety of issues affecting local governments that include ways to help localities lower costs to taxpayers and become more efficient. He has also been active on transportation issues, pressing MTA to address overcrowding on the New Haven line, and consumer issues, for example, working to increase the state’s enforcement of deceptive marketing practices and violations of do-not-call registry rules.
Last year was a watershed year in state government. Countless issues that had been bottled up in the Senate for years finally passed both houses. Steve was a co-sponsor of most of the major key bills passed in 2019, including legislation on voting reform, gun control, the Climate and Community Protection Act, the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, improved tenant protections laws, anti-discrimination laws and strengthening of New York’s laws on sexual harassment.
Steve has been the lead author of new laws on a variety of topics he has originated with a record for passing most of the bills he has introduced in recent years. In 2019 Steve passed a new law to reinstate landmark protections to guarantee commercial tenants access to the courts before a business could be evicted. Other legislation Steve passed included new laws concerning public safety, consumer rights and humane treatment of animals. These include legislation to make directing laser pointers at airplane cockpits illegal under state law, strengthen child labor law protections for minors working in the modeling industry, enact rules to prevent dangerous accidents from falling soccer goals, expand options for consumers holding annuities and increase the state penalty for stealing a pet, which had not been changed in over 40 years.
In 2018 Steve sponsored Lulu and Leo’s Law, which established 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, but presented false references stating she did. Without 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.
Steve 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 he sponsored new legislation that was signed into law to expand notice of all missing persons cases to the federal database.
In March 2016, Steve received Audubon New York’s William Hoyt Environmental Excellence Award. He has also 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 Steve for “his ongoing dedication to the labor movement and the working men and women in New York State.”
Before joining the Assembly, Steve 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, Steve 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, he served as Senate Fellow and Legislative Director to State Senator Jeremy S. Weinstein from 1980 to 1985.
He 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 Audubon NY since 2009.
Steve 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.
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.
He serves as Chair of the Assembly Majority Conference and as a member of the following Assembly Committees: Education; Local Governments; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; Environmental Conservation; Libraries and Education Technology; and Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development. He also serves on the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.
In addition to his regular standing committee assignments, the Assemblyman serves as a member of both the Assembly Work Group on Legislative Process, Operations and Public Participation and the Assembly Climate Change Work Group. Otis previously served as Chair of the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management.
Assemblyman Otis represents the 91st Assembly District in Westchester County, which includes the communities along the Long Island Sound of Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook.