Though he knows his district leans Democratic and says that anti-Trump energy has launched the most civic engagement he’s seen since the Vietnam War, Charles Lavine says he doesn’t take anything for granted.
District 13 is shaped like a hollowed-out circle that borders the coast and surrounds much of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay (“I’m like a poster child for gerrymandering,” Lavine joked). It includes parts of Roslyn.
Lavine is running for an eighth term and says he is ready to continue his work should he be elected for his 14th year in the assembly.
In an interview with Blank Slate Media, he detailed opinions on everything from corruption in the state government to gun policy.
On some topics, the state Senate’s Republican majority has been the main obstacle in getting policies he supports passed.
The Reproductive Health Act, which Democrats say would codify abortion protections under the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to the state, has been criticized by Republicans, Lavine said, who blocked it from passing.
Many say that unqualified people will be performing surgical abortions because the act does not limit the operators to doctors, Lavine said.
He said he disagrees that it means they are not qualified enough.
“Any person who is going to perform any sort of medical procedure in the state of New York must be licensed by the New York State Education Department,” he said.
Lavine supports the Child Victim’s Act, which would expand the criminal and civil statute of limitations and create a one-year window for filing civil lawsuits.
“It is pathetic that that cannot pass in the state Senate,” he said
He voted for gun reform bills that have not made it through the state Legislature, including a “red flag” bill that would disqualify people with domestic violence convictions or protection abuse orders from owning guns.
Hot state issues including political corruption and recreational marijuana are also on his mind.
He’s both in favor of legalized recreational marijuana and thinks it’s imminent.
To curb corruption in state government he thinks district attorneys and U.S. attorneys must continue getting stricter, and that internal policing in the legislature wouldn’t work.
“I think historically prosecutors provided the nod and the wink to political people, but that there was a sense that a lot of people who were elected to office could get away with a whole lot and not have to worry,” Lavine said. “I do believe that there’s recently been a greater amount of attention paid. I think the district attorneys are bolder than they have been.”
He also opposes the LLC loophole, which classifies easy-to-form LLCs as individuals allowing them to donate up to $60,600 to political candidates rather than the $5,000 corporations are limited to. The loophole has allowed companies, using multiple LLCs, to give a virtually unlimited amount to candidates.
To cut education costs overall, he thinks politicians have to start the long task of consolidating school districts, which he has seen achieved in other states, such as Maryland and Virginia.
“Any time I have a public meeting the overwhelming response of people who show up is yes that’s the way it should be,” he said, but has found that politicians have been avoiding it.
Long Island spends exorbitantly on school administrative costs because there are so many separate school administrations in small districts, he said.
His work in the assembly speaks for his qualifications for re-election, Lavine said.
As the head of the election law committee, he advocates for voting reform including early voting, election consolidation and easy to read ballots.
On the ethics committee, he helped create an ethics policy, which he says, may be the best in the nation.
“I think that the work I did heading that very contentious committee over the course of the investigations of too many of my colleagues is good work, and I’m ready, willing and able to continue,” he said.