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photo of Micah Z. Kellner2008 Questionnaire response from:
Micah Z. Kellner, candidate for State Assembly (65th Assembly District, Manhattan)

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Candidate Name: Micah Z. Kellner

Candidate for Assembly District: 65


Campaign Name: The Kellner Committee

Campaign Address: 217 East 85th Street #117, New York, NY 10028

If you have a campaign office, is it wheelchair accessible? That address is a P.O. Box, no campaign office.

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

Campaign Manager: Ashley Roberts

Phone: 908 - 334 - 8095

Email: info @


Previous elected offices held: State Committee Member, 65th Assembly District


Key endorsements to date: League of Humane Voters, Working Families Party

Community organizations: East Side Democratic Club

Political leaders:

  • Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
  • State Senator Liz Krueger
  • State Senator Jose Serrano
  • Councilmember Dan Garodnick
  • Councilmember Jessica Lappin
  • Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer

Local community leaders:

  • Frank Wilkinson
  • John Halebian
  • Lisa Pass
  • Pauline Dana-Bashian
  • Ruth Halberg





    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?

      • continue to advocate against the conversion of accessible units in Mitchell-Lamas on Roosevelt Island in my district into smaller, non-accessible units. This is a serious problem that severely impacts the availability of affordable, accessible housing.

      • I introduced two bills this legislative session with Sen. Duane: A.10420 (to mandate daily inspections for elevators and escalators in MTA passenger stations and improve oversight for their repair) and A.10734 (to establish the MTA Riders Council for People with Disabilities).

      • I have written several letters to Speaker Silver and Governor Paterson along with Assembly Members Gottfried and Koon to advocate for the passage of the EPIC for People with Disabilities bill, of which I am a sponsor. I have spoken on this issue extensively in my conference, and I am dedicated to this continued advocacy.

      • I, along with advocates for amputees, met with the NYS Insurance Department to discuss parity issues in regards to prosthetics.

      • I organized several sign-on letters from Assembly Members to protest efforts within the state administration to remove the jury system from medical liability and I am working to establish better solutions to the stand-off between doctors and lawyers on this issue. It is critical that victims of medical malpractice are afforded the awards they need to provide for their lifelong disabilities.

      • I am working with parents of children who need assistive technologies in schools to put together a task force on this issue. I believe that there are too many children who are cognitively capable of succeeding at the same level as their peers who are isolated from an integrated, professionally trained, technology-sensitive, and positive learning environment in our public schools. I have made the regents aware of my concerns and will be doing more work on this issue this summer.

      • I secured several legislative initiative grants to organizations that provide services to people with disabilities including NAC, Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, Rhinelander Children's Center program for deaf and hard of hearing children.


    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?





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

      I have cerebral palsy so I have firsthand experience. I have employed people with disabilities and worked with colleagues who have disabilities in the past. I believe that a firsthand perspective of disabilities enhances ones knowledge and ability to work on these issues. I am passionate about disabilities issues.


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

      Yes, and I have done so in the past.


    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?

      My strategy is to meet with advocates and leaders regularly to talk about important issues and work collectively to establish priorities and strategies for achieving them. I regularly reach out to disabilities advocates for advice and input and I will continue to do so.




    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?

      The best way to counteract this is to create laws on the state level that guarantee the rights of people with disabilities above and beyond what the minimum requirements of federal law provide. My MTA Riders Council for PWDs bill, my MTA daily inspections bill, and a bill I will soon introduce to mandate accessible taxis are examples of this. Also important, is to only support judicial candidates who believe in our principles. You never know which local civil court judge might one day find their way to a federal bench or even the U.S. Supreme Court. I am careful to make sure that the judges that I endorse understand my principles around disabilities issues, and are friends to our community.


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

      Through aggressive legislation that mandates accessibility and ensures equal participation in society. I am committed to finding creative ways to challenge the institutionalized discrimination that people with disabilities face every day.




    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?



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



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





    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?



    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?



    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?





    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?



    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?



    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?



    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.




    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?





    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?



    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?

      If this happened in my district, I would first organize a meeting with the school district to try to address the problem on that level. I would write a letter to the district supervisor and ask other local elected officials to sign that letter with me. If that did not work, I would approach the Board of Education and ask them to fix the problem and discipline the district supervisor. I would generate press attention to the issue to embarrass the school district. Failing all else, I would help the student to find a pro bono attorney and be as helpful as possible in filing a lawsuit against the school district. If there was a legislative remedy that was warranted or useful (perhaps establishing enhanced penalties for non-compliance) I would certainly look into those possibilities as well - although that would likely take too long to be of use to that individual student.




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

      Yes, I have several bills on this topic which I mentioned earlier in this questionnaire.


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

      I will introduce this bill within the next few months - and I will of course be very supportive!


    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?



Date: June 12, 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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