Robert M. HertzbergThe information in this biography was supplied by the subject.Bringing boundless energy and a passion for public service to the job, Robert M. Hertzberg was elected Speaker of the California State Assembly in an unprecedented unanimous voice vote.
Chosen to lead the Assembly January 2000 and sworn in as Speaker in April, Speaker Hertzberg's tenure has been marked by a series of successful policy initiatives and a drive to retool government to prepare for California's future.
Known as a problem-solver, Speaker Hertzberg led the charge as California made record investments in improving public schools, building affordable housing, relieving traffic congestion and utilizing the state's community colleges as the classrooms for the New Economy.
As Speaker, Hertzberg has championed issues that have a direct impact on the quality of life for Californians. Under his leadership, the Legislature enacted a historic expansion of state-funded scholarships that will allow virtually every needy high-school graduate to pursue a college education.
As the 1999-2000 session drew to a close, Speaker Hertzberg worked to pass landmark measures protecting the rights of farm workers, and successfully concluded negotiations to rebuild Los Angeles County's largest public hospital - bringing an end to a long-running stalemate.
Speaker Hertzberg has also worked to restore the Legislature's historic watchdog role over government operations. As his first act as Speaker, he established Speaker's Office of Oversight, which was widely recognized for playing a key role in the series of hearings that led to the resignation of former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush.
Speaker Hertzberg is a member of the University of California's Board of Regents, and serves as a trustee to the California State University system.
The Los Angeles Daily News noted that Speaker Hertzberg "is emerging as one of the state's brightest hopes for a new generation of politicians." The Civic Center News Source termed Speaker Hertzberg "a major force to be reckoned with in the state."
Prior to his election as Speaker, Hertzberg served as chairman of the Assembly's powerful Rules Committee. Along with overseeing all day-to-day functions of the house and presiding over the panel that reviews all legislation, Hertzberg has also worked to modernize the Assembly. He established extensive new training courses for new members and legislative staff, opened an on-site childcare center, and upgraded technology throughout the Assembly.
Speaker Hertzberg served as the Assembly's lead negotiator on a number of issues, including marathon talks that led to passage of the largest school construction bond in state history.
First elected to the Assembly in 1996, Hertzberg assumed a leading role in the Assembly from the start of his tenure. He was the first freshman ever named to chair the Committee on Public Safety, which is responsible for considering more than 500 bills each session relating to crime and law enforcement.
Speaker Hertzberg has focused his own legislative efforts on reforming state and local government, giving police new tools to protect public safety and improving the quality of life for residents of his district in the heart of the San Fernando Valley and throughout California.
After many years of work, a major legislative achievement in 1999 was the successful passage of the Woman's Contraception Equity Act, which requires health plans to provide coverage for birth control.
Making government more responsive to the public has been at the core of several measures authored by Speaker Hertzberg. Three times he has led successful efforts to revise state law to give residents a greater voice in the governance of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. His legislation to reform the local government boundary formation process gave communities new tools to reign in urban sprawl.
Providing police and prosecutors with the latest techniques available has also been a hallmark of Speaker Hertzberg's efforts. His legislation created a statewide witness protection program and created a pilot program "311" system to clear jammed police phone lines for true emergency calls. He led efforts to develop a $100 million state-of-the-art crime lab in Los Angeles County.
Prior to his election, he served on the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission, spearheading efforts to increase government efficiency. His other contributions to government include serving as chair of the California Advisory Commission on Youth (1978-79) and as a member of the California State Board of Pharmacy (1984-88).
Speaker Hertzberg has served on the board of directors of a variety of community organizations, including CORO Associates, the Chinatown Service Center and Mulholland Tomorrow. From 1991-95, he was chair of the Dean's Council of Hebrew Union College and was also vice president of the American Jewish Committee.
Prior to his election, he worked as a business and real estate attorney after years of practicing as a constitutional lawyer. His legal accomplishments include briefing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and co-authoring a book on real estate law. He has also been involved in a number of business activities, including residential and commercial development, mortgage brokerage, light manufacturing and international trade.
A product of the K-12 public school system, Speaker Hertzberg graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Redlands in 1976, and from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1979.
A resident of Sherman Oaks, Speaker Hertzberg is married to Dr. Cynthia Telles-Hertzberg, a faculty member of the UCLA School of Medicine. Together, they have three sons: Daniel, David and Raymond.