Kenneth P. LaValle, (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) was first elected to the New York State Senate in 1976 and was appointed Chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education in 1979. Senator LaValle has helped shape higher education policy in New York State for more than 30 years where his work with education leaders at the State University of New York, City University of New York and independent colleges has earned him the respect of the academic community.
In 2007, the Governor appointed Senator LaValle to the New York State Commission on Higher Education which was charged with identifying ways of improving the quality of higher education in the State. Senator LaValle also served on the National Council of State Legislatures’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education whose goal was to create awareness among State Legislatures of their role in providing accessible and affordable public higher education.
Senator LaValle's achievements in education and higher education are matched by a distinguished record in health care and he is most proud of his work in establishing a Burn Unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center. His legislation to protect and advance the rights of patients earned him special recognition from the Suffolk County Breast Health Partnership. St. Charles Hospice also paid tribute to his efforts in developing a program for terminally ill patients in nursing homes. His commitment to quality health care is continued in his efforts to create an east end hospital alliance, ensuring continued access to vital health services on eastern Long Island.
Senator LaValle was instrumental in creating The Long Island High Technology Incubator at Stony Brook University and championed the Stony Brook University Incubator at Calverton. The Calverton Incubator was conceived as an economic engine to enhance Eastern Long Island's agricultural, aquacultural and environmental industries. The Long Island High Technology Incubator is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping new technologically-innovative companies to grow by providing them with a variety of support resources and services. Since opening in 1992, the Incubator has been associated with more than 70 businesses, and 44 companies have graduated successfully from the LIHTI program, contributing more than $2.5B to the national economy and creating jobs for more than 500 employees.
Senator LaValle's environmental legacy is reflected in the enactment of the Pine Barrens Preservation Act of 1993. As the author of this historic legislation, he has assured the protection of environmentally-sensitive lands for generations to come and is often cited as a landmark initiative in the environmental well-being of Long Island. The Long Island Pine Barrens Society, the Group for the South Fork, the North Fork Environmental Council, the Peconic Land Trust, and the Nature Conservancy are but a few of the many organizations from which Senator LaValle has received praise for his positive contributions on environmental issues.
Throughout his tenure in the New York State Senate, real property tax relief has been an important priority for Senator LaValle. As a major architect in the development of the STAR program, he takes tremendous personal satisfaction in the benefits this initiative has brought to homeowners in the First Senatorial District.
Senator LaValle has also been a formidable advocate for the disabled. He was responsible for drafting much of the existing legislation providing disabled citizens with greater access to educational opportunities and continues to champion issues important to senior citizens. Senator LaValle has also advanced bills critical to local firefighters and veterans' organizations.
In recognition of his outstanding dedication to the people of New York State, Senator LaValle has been repeatedly named "Man of the Year" and "Legislator of the Year" by diverse groups of local and statewide organizations. He was also presented the Medallion of the University from the State University of New York at Albany and the University Medal from Stony Brook University in tribute to his work in higher education. Both awards are the highest honor accorded by the universities.
Extremely proud of his Italian heritage, Senator LaValle was privileged to receive the honorary title "Cavaliere al Merito della Repubblica Italiana" from the Italian Government for his work in education and promotion of cultural exchange.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Senator LaValle graduated from Hempstead High School on Long Island. He earned his undergraduate degree at Adelphi College, a degree in education from the State University College at New Paltz, and a J.D. degree from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Senator LaValle has completed extensive graduate study in Government and International Relations at New York University and received an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law Degree from Dowling College. He is a practicing attorney.
Senator LaValle is the father of two grown children, James and Lisa and the proud grandfather of Jessica Katherine and Elvis William LaValle, and Joshua Eric and Justin David Russ. He resides in Port Jefferson with his wife Penny.
In addition to his standing committee assignments, Senator LaValle is Chairman of the Senate Majority Conference.