Written by Wendy Kreitzman Saturday, 22 March 2014 00:00
Admittedly “very busy” up in Albany, New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel is at least equally busy down the 16th Assembly District.
While she always seems to be working on overload on environmental issues and working to stop illegal guns, Schimel’s district office in Great Neck Plaza bustles with constituents and their concerns.
“A good percentage of our time is spent helping people...insurance issues, health care, even stop signs,” Schimel told Anton Community Newspapers during a recent interview.
Both in Albany and downstate, Schimel resident is working on a range of issues. Here are some addressed in the interview:
• Common Core curriculum. She has called for “at least a two-year delay in the Common Core.” While she does support the Common Core standards, the “hasty incorporation of the Common Core standards and the revised state assessments” are a “great concern.” She has spent a great deal of time meeting with parents and educators, as well as attending public hearings.
• Student privacy. “It is imperative that the sharing of student information with inBloom is delayed until questions regarding the protection of student data from security breaches, the necessity of the details being shared and the potential for the commercialization of this sensitive and private data, have all been answered,” she said of the private data company underwritten by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
• School funding. Schimel is working to eliminate the use of the GEA formula, and to restore GAP elimination funding to school districts. The GEA (Gap Elimination Adjustment) is a formula in the state budget that reduces the amount of aid each school district receives. Introduced a few years ago to trim the state’s budget deficit, the program has cut state aid to school districts by $6.35 billion, with Long Island school districts losing nearly $1 billion. Schimel explains that the GEA increases dependence on local property taxes to fund schools, yet the school districts are faced with a tax cap.
• Tax cap. She is introducing legislation to amend the tax cap law so that school districts can increase their budget over the tax levy limit without a super-majority vote.
• The Women’s Equality Act (WEA). As a member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, she has been “advocating for the passage of the full 10 points of the WEA.” The points include: a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body; pay equity; stopping sexual harassment in the workplace; strengthen human trafficking laws; better protection for domestic violence victims and ending their housing discrimination; stopping pregnancy discrimination; removing barriers to remedying discrimination; stopping source-of-income discrimination. She is proud that the Assembly passed the full measure of this bill.
• The environment. She recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale of personal-care products and cosmetics that contain microbeads, tiny micro-polymer (plastic) particles used in many such products. “Recent scientific studies have found that microbeads are polluting our waterways,” she said. Fish eat these pollutants and the fish eventually become food for humans. Her bill, she said, will help prevent further such pollution.
• Triclosan. Schimel introduced legislation to prohibit the sale of personal products containing triclosan, which she reports that “several studies” claim to cause adverse health effects.
• Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). “It is an international trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors by the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries ... which the Obama Administration is trying to fast-track.” Further, she said “Fast-track approval would prohibit Congress from making any changes to the trade deal once it is finalized.”
She has organized a bipartisan group of 40 New York State Assembly members to send a letter to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, asking him to assess TPP’s potential impact on state and local governments.” She added that “Of particular concern is the threat that TPP poses to the rights of states to enact and enforce environmental and health protections.”
• Gun control. A longtime advocate for putting an end to illegal guns and gun violence, Schimel is still fighting.