Americans with Disability Act reform bill reaches governor

Handicap Sign

SACRAMENTO — After its passage Monday, proponents are now lobbying the governor to sign SB 269, which would reform the Americans with Disability Act in the state.

“SB 269 represents the hard work and dedication of dozens of legislators and stakeholders who have come together to help small business owners and workers suffering from ADA lawsuit abuse,” said Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, a Republican from Riverbank, who co-authored the bill. “I urge Governor Brown to help our local communities and state by signing this critical legislation.”

The bill would make a host of changes to how the law is enforced in the state. It would give small businesses with less than 50 employees time to fix access violations. Those who have hired a Certified Access Specialist would have 120 days to make specified minor repairs to their establishments.

Businesses that are aware of lawsuits filed against them would have 15 days to address specified violations. The legislation also requires state agencies and local government building departments to send regular updates of changing ADA laws.

California, and the Central Valley in particular, have been a regular target of lawsuits against business for minor violations such as a sign affixed an inch too high or too low on a door or a disabled parking logo that is a too faded or painted in the wrong shade of blue.

Currently, such minor violations result in a $4,000 penalty for each violation plus the plaintiff’s attorney fees. The state is home to about 12 percent of the country’s disabled population, but accounts for 40 percent of ADA lawsuits nationwide.

The bill was passed by the state Senate, 38-0. The bill faces opposition from some trail lawyers associations.

Gov. Jerry Brown has 12 days from receipt of the bill to sign or veto it, or it will become law with or without his signature. Gov. Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2015 which included some tax credits to help businesses pay for needed changes. The tax credits are gone from this bill which proponents hope will give it a better chance of with the governor.

Source: Central Valley Business Journal

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