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Ellen Young makes history as temporary Assembly speaker

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State Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing) became the first Asian American to officiate over the state Assembly last Thursday when she acted as Assembly speaker pro tempore in place of state Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

Young, also the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Assembly, led the legislative body for the entire day, holding debates and votes on bills as Albany heads toward the end of the legislative session.

Young said she was honored by the opportunity.

"To preside over the chambers as speaker pro tempore is an honor normally bestowed only on senior members of the Assembly," Young said. "As a freshman member, and the first Asian-American woman in the Legislature, I feel enormously privileged that my colleagues have placed their confidence in me to share in this tradition."

Young used the opportunity to open debate on one of the 44 bills she has introduced to the Assembly during her first term. The Assembly began its examination of a bill authored by Young that would prohibit the shading of solar energy devices on adjacent property by landscaping.

Since her term began in 2006, five bills authored by Young have been signed into law, also making her the first Asian American to have this happen.

Young will be running for re-election this year and is facing a Democratic primary challenge from attorney Grace Meng, daughter of Young's predecessor, Jimmy Meng, who declined to run again in 2006.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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