H. William DeWeese
Born: April 18, 1950, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA. Member of the House: 50th Legislative District, representing all of Greene County and parts of Fayette and Washington Counties, May 10, 1976-April 24, 2012. Affiliation: Democrat.
The son of a small-town Dodge dealer and a homemaker, H. William DeWeese graduated from Waynesburg High School in 1968. He attended Wake Forest University, was elected student body president, and graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.
DeWeese joined the United States Marine Corps after college. He served from 1972-1975 and rose to the rank of first lieutenant. DeWeese was first sworn in as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the 50th Legislative District on May 10, 1976, following the resignation of Donald Davis, and was re-elected to serve 18 more consecutive terms.
DeWeese was the prime sponsor of legislation which designated part of the grounds of the State Capitol as “Soldiers’ Grove.” The bill, which became Act 75 of 1987, designated war memorials in honor of veterans from all major American conflicts. In 1992 DeWeese was the prime sponsor of legislation that required health insurance companies in the Commonwealth to cover child immunization costs, also known as Act 35.
DeWeese was appointed chairman of the Judiciary Committee from 1987-1988, was elected to the leadership position of Democratic Whip in 1989, and was elevated to Democratic Leader on January 23, 1990, due to the death of Speaker James Manderino on December 26, 1989. DeWeese also served as Democratic Leader from 1995-2008, and Democratic Whip in 2009, until his resignation from that position on December 15, 2009.
DeWeese took the oath of Speaker of the House of Representatives on January 5, 1993. Among the policies he advocated for were tax and judicial reform, the advancement of civil rights, and the development of a state economic plan to unite business and labor, and support the interests of rural Pennsylvania, the environment, and the arts. Two environmental bills cosponsored by DeWeese during his Speakership include Act 1 and Act 50 of 1993. Act 1 designated April 22, every year, as Earth Day in the Commonwealth. Act 50 provided for the establishment, operation, and administration of the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund. As Speaker, DeWeese created the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee and conducted three economic summits to bring Pennsylvania’s business and labor leaders together in search of economic progress. During his Speakership, Act 48 of 1994 was passed that reduced the corporate net income tax and provided businesses additional tax relief measures.
DeWeese is a lifetime member of the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association, and a member of the George C. Marshall Foundation and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
To view this Speaker's House Historical Biography, click here.