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photo of Michael A. Benjamin2008 Questionnaire response from:
Michael A. Benjamin, candidate for State Assembly (79th Assembly District, Bronx)


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Candidate Name: Michael A. Benjamin

Candidate for Assembly District: 79

 

Campaign Name: Friends of Assemblyman Michael Benjamin

Campaign Address: 1010 Sherman Avenue, Suite 6C, Bronx NY 10456

If you have a campaign office, is it wheelchair accessible? Not applicable

If you are an incumbent, is your district office wheelchair accessible? Yes

Campaign Manager: Kennedy Benjamin

Email: fomb08 @ aol.com

Previous elected offices held: Incumbent NYS Assembly

Previous appointed offices held: Deputy Chief Clerk-Bronx Board Of Elections

 

Key endorsements to date: Council of School Supervisors & Administrators

Local community leaders: Greg Bell, Sr. - Insight for New Housing, Inc.

 

 

  1. ACTION SHOWS COMMITMENT!

     

    1. While in public office/prior to this campaign, what have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?

      Sponsor of the HAVA voting rights bills. Support all legislation that enables access for persons with disabilities.

       

    2. Will you commit to only attend and/or sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible?

      As much as possible and when feasible. All event locations are physically accessible.

       

  2. GENERAL QUESTIONS:

     

    1. What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities in your personal life and in the workplace?

      Some personal interactions with friends and constituents with varying types of disabilities.

       

    2. Are you willing to hire and to provide reasonable accommodation (e.g. flex or part time) for staff members with disabilities?

      Yes.

       

    3. How will you work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the State Legislature? What will be your strategy?

      Take advice and guidance from disability advocates. Governor Paterson is one such advocate.

       

  3. CIVIL RIGHTS

     

    1. What will you do at the State level to reverse the negative impact of recent decisions in Federal Courts which are undercutting the powers of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in New York State?

      No response.

       

    2. How would you change the laws of New York State to protect the rights of its citizens with disabilities?

      No response.

       

  4. MEDICAID

     

    While the State is focused on reducing the costs of Medicaid and other programs, persons with disabilities need to continue to have access to the services and supports they need and choose.

    1. Would you oppose proposals which would negatively affect eligibility, benefits, coverage, and/or access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries and eliminate the systemic bias that leads to unwanted placement in nursing homes and other institutions?

      Yes.

       

    2. Would you seek to promote comprehensive long term care reform that will not reduce coverage or access to services?

      Yes.

       

    3. Would you increase rental/housing subsidies to participants in the new Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid waiver program?

      Unfamiliar.

       

  5. HEALTH INSURANCE

     

    1. Timothy's Law was designed to end health insurance discrimination by enacting parity in coverage for people with biologically-based psychiatric disabilities. However, returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are not covered. Do you favor amending Timothy's Law to provide coverage for PTSD?

      Yes, I am a co-sponsor of the measure and have written letters in support of the bill.

       

    2. Under Kendra's Law, a state-funded Medicaid grants program was established to provide medications for eligible individuals with psychiatric disabilities upon release or discharge from institutions to eliminate some of the problems associated with the Medicaid coverage gap. Do you support Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility legislation which would eliminate the standard 45 days coverage gap that blocks access to treatment?

      Yes.

       

    3. Would you expand Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (EPIC) to provide the same level of eligibility and coverage to persons with disabilities under age 65?

      Yes and I have supported such legislation.

       

  6. HOUSING

     

    1. We are in the midst of a housing crisis. Accessible, affordable housing is in short supply. People with disabilities are being priced out of the market. Do you support the creation of a housing trust fund for persons with disabilities?

      Yes.

       

    2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires housing developers to set aside a certain percentage of accessible units for persons with disabilities when federal funds are used for construction. Do you favor incorporating these provisions into State law so that the Dept. of Housing and Community Renewal can be empowered to enforce these provisions?

      Yes, it makes sense and is fair and equitable.

       

    3. Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of "visitability" in the New York State Building Code?

      Yes, and I have pledged to do so.

       

    4. What is your position on expanding DRIE (Disabled Rent Increase Exemption) to have the same income eligibility limits as SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption)? Currently SCRIE's income cap is $27,000, while DRIE's is $18,600.

      Yes, when the state is in a position to do so fiscally.

       

  7. VOTING ACCESS & HAVA

    With the recent decision to acquire voting machines that attempt to meet the accessibility standards of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), many poling places in New York State remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Do you favor the elimination of provisions in Section 4-104 (1-a) of the NYS Election Law allowing waiver of polling place accessibility standards?

    No.

     

  8. EDUCATION

     

    1. Despite Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, students with disabilities face problems when pursuing higher education. These statutes do not specify how students should request accommodations or assistance in asserting their rights under the law. Will you support a fully funded office of disability services on each SUNY and CUNY campus to assist students with disabilities in securing accommodations?

      Yes. I have done so each year since 2003.

       

    2. How do you propose dealing with a school district that deny civil rights to disabled students even after the State Division of Civil Rights affirms the student's rights such as to use an assist animal?

      No response.

       

  9. TRANSPORTATION

     

    1. Do you favor an expansion of accessible transportation options for people with disabilities in NYS?

      Yes.

       

    2. Will you support Assembly Member Kellner's proposed bill requiring NYC to transition to a 100% accessible taxi fleet?

      Yes, with state subsidies to assist taxi fleet owners in making the transition.

       

    3. Do you support legislation requiring car services, and all shuttle services to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles or otherwise ensure that they have the capacity to serve persons with disabilities?

      No.

       

Date: June 4, 2008

 

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For other candidates running for State Senator and State Assembly positions, go to the Questionnaires section

 

 

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