Action Alert: Protecting the ADA - Tell congress to Oppose H.R. 620


Ardis
 

Greetings ACB Leaders,

 

There’s been quite a bit of discussion and enquiry over the past week regarding the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee mark-up of H.R. 620, The ADA Education & Reform Act of 2017. The legislation was voted out of committee on Sept. 7th, and ACB has been engaged with  the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) lobbying activity in both the House and the Senate, in order to defuse efforts by shopping center, hotel, and restaurant associations to drive this bill through Congress. The following provides some helpful background and action items:

 

BACKGROUND:

The primary concern over H.R. 620 is its intent to curtail frivolous Title III ADA law suits. The focus is on architectural barriers, which is of significant concern for disability advocates representing people with mobility impairments. The driving force behind the legislation were association representing small shopping centers. However, the legislation has gained additional support from a wide range of associations representing the shopping, dining, and hospitality industries, including the U.S. Chamber of commerce. The dominant message they have been sending to Congress is to “Restore the integrity of the ADA.” (CLICK HERE  to read their sign-on support letter - . it’s in PDF format but is accessible). The legislation has gained attention in states where additional local laws allow for awarding of damages to plaintiffs, like California where it has received support from both Republicans and Democrats. Texas Arizona, and Florida have also received quite a bit of attention on the issue.

 

ACB has stood in solidarity with advocates opposed to this legislation, and we have grown increasingly concerned by this bill as we wrestle with more and more Title III access barriers in places of public accommodation, such as the rapid rise in tablets and kiosks in restaurants (See ACB’s recent press release on our Eatsa settlement). States like Arizona and Oklahoma have also begun to introduce and pass legislation that expands curtailment to online websites as well, and we have heard that Senator Flake (R-AZ) and others in the Senate are looking to introduce similar legislation. For this reason, it is important for advocates to reach out to all their congressional contacts in the House and Senate.

 

If you have not already done so for your affiliate, consider signing onto a current petition (Don't Tread on My ADA). While it is addressed to the Judiciary Chairman in the House, which has already voted it out of Committee, it continues to serve as an advocacy tool. You may also find helpful CCD’s Rights Taskforce letter (PDF File) opposing the passage of H.R. 620 out of committee last week.

 

ACB acknowledges there are individuals who seek to gain reward from drive-by law suits with little to no regard for outcomes that truly fulfill the mission of the ADA — Their actions not only cast a bad light on advocacy groups seeking legitimate justice and equality, but they run serious risk of setting bad precedence, which makes it more difficult to seek justice down the road. However, this does not mean that Congress should set up barriers that make it difficult for everyone to fight ADA access inequality because of a few bad apples. There are plenty of alternative solutions to these bad players without having to water down the rights of millions of Americans with disabilities.

 

TAKE ACTION:

It is important to know that while the Judiciary Committee vote was drawn along party lines, this bill has received support from both sides of the aisle. Many of the associations in favor of the bill have significant influence in congress; therefore, it is important to reach out to your member of Congress to express your deep concern. Our message should be loud and clear:

 

Tell them you’re deeply concerned with legislation moved out of the House Judiciary Committee (H.R. 620), and its power to strip dignity from people with disabilities by putting up legal barriers in our effort to seek equality.

 

• We can’t allow H.R. 620 to give a free pass to businesses in violation of the ADa.

 

• Congress should not pass any legislation impacting the ADA without having people with disabilities and their advocates at the drawing table.

 

• Feel free to share with them the most recent letter from the CCD Rights Taskforce, of which ACB is a member:

 

http://c-c-d.org/fichiers/UPDATED-CCD-and-Allies-Letter-of-Opposition-for-The-ADA-Education-and-Reform-Act-of-2017-H.R.620-Sept-7-2017.pdf

 

As we move forward on this issue, ACB will continue to keep you informed and identify action items to help protect the ADA.

 

Warmest Regards,

 

Tony

 

Anthony Stephens

Director of Advocacy & Governmental Affairs

American Council of the Blind

T: 202.467.5081

E: astephens@...

 

Ardis Bazyn

Make the Impossible Possible"

For  inspirational speaking, business coaching, or books: http://www.bazyncommunications.com

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