Speaker: Dennis M. O’Brien, Former City Councilman

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Speaker: Dennis M. O’Brien, Former City Councilman Former City Councilman Dennis M. O’Brien could well be described as being the hardest working elected officials in Pennsylvania. He has been a vocal advocate for the needs of the citizens of the City of Philadelphia since first being elected as a State Representative in 1976. A determined leader on health care and law enforcement issues for Pennsylvanians, and a strong advocate for children with disabilities, O’Brien is known for always looking out for the average citizen. During the 2007-2008 legislative session, O’Brien was elected by his peers to serve as Speaker of the House. Serving as the first ever minority party Speaker in Pennsylvania’s history, O’Brien amassed a record on government reform, criminal justice and Autism insurance legislation. One colleague termed O’Brien’s noteworthy legislative achievement as “focused effectiveness.” Recognizing O’Brien’s advocacy on behalf of individuals with Autism, Council President Darrell Clarke appointed O’Brien to chair the Committee on Disabilities and Individuals with Special Needs. Councilman O’Brien is proud to have led most major committee during his tenure in the state legislature. He served as chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee, Judiciary Committee, Consumer Affairs Committee, Health and Human Services Committee and the Veteran’s Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. He was the founding member and chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Autism Caucus. As one would expect of an O’Brien, he was a charter member of the Irish Caucus. O’Brien’s greatest successes have come on important anti-crime bills. Among these are measures to impose the death penalty for repeat murderers, strong financial and prison penalties for hit and run drivers, and expansion of the definition of rape, providing for a second death penalty hearing if one is set aside on a technicality, mandating DNA testing for repeat sexual offenders in order to establish a criminal information database and tougher sentencing for drug dealers. Most recently, O’Brien has seen signed into law a ground breaking package of prison reform bills that will revolutionize criminal justice in Pennsylvania. Health care, educational choice, veteran’s rights, economic development initiatives, early intervention and maintaining nursing services have also been high priorities for Councilman O’Brien. He also has secured thousands of dollars in state funding for various community, youth and senior citizen groups throughout Philadelphia. O’Brien is actively involved in numerous community groups. He is an associate member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 5. He also serves as the Republican Leader of the 57th Ward in Northeast Philadelphia; Regina Coeli Knights of Columbus, 4th Degree; Philadelphia Irish Society, and the Philadelphia Emerald Society. Dennis is married to the former Bernadette M. Benson. They live in Northeast Philadelphia with their three children, Dennis Jr., Brendan and Joseph.