A bill that would roll back accessibility rules required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed the House last week–with Rep. Poliquin voting YES–and is headed to the Senate. Call Poliquin to protest his vote for the bill and contact Sens. Collins and King and tell them to oppose any attempt to bring the bill for a vote.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a cornerstone civil rights law enacted in 1990 following decades of work by Americans with disabilities and their advocates. House Republicans are now trying to roll back the section of the law that requires public spaces be fully accessible to people with disabilities. Last week, Rep. Bruce Poliquin voted YES on H.R. 620, which allows businesses to delay making their establishments accessible until someone files a written complaint, shifting the burden of enforcing the ADA to people with disabilities. Under the bill, which passed the House and is headed to the Senate, businesses would have six months or longer from the time a complaint is filed to make the necessary adjustments. The American Civil Liberties Union says the legislation removes any incentive for a business to proactively ensure that people with disabilities have access. Proponents of the legislation argue that the change is necessary to prevent frivolous lawsuits, but disability advocates say that is just a myth. The civil rights rollback, which is opposed by more than 200 disability rights organizations, was passed by the House on a party line vote. Rep. Pingree voted against the bill.
- Call your senators. Tell Collins and King to oppose any attempt to bring this bill to a vote in the Senate. If you have a disability, be sure to tell them how this bill will affect you, or how the ADA’s business accessibility rules help you in your daily life.
- Call Reps. Pingree and Poliquin. Thank Rep. Pingree for standing up for people with disabilities and tell Poliquin that his vote against the ADA will cost him in November.
- Speak out and spread the word on social media! Go to Rooted in Rights for shareable videos, printable signs, and other social media tips. When commenting on social media, use the hashtags #StopHR620 #HR620 #HandsOffMyADA #CivilRights #EqualAccess
- This bill purports to strengthen the ADA, but it will actually take away rights of people with disabilities.
- The ADA was written as a compromise between the disability and business communities, and protections already exist to prevent “undue burden” on small businesses. In fact, nearly 28 years after the ADA was enacted, non-compliance creates systemic access issues for disabled Americans. Poliquin’s Bangor office is a prime example of this.
- HR 620 would make it easier for businesses to continue to ignore the ADA because it eliminates their need to meet accessibility requirements until a complaint is filed against them, and then gives them an unreasonably long time to comply as long as they are making “substantial progress.”
- This bill puts more restrictions and procedures on people with disabilities, resulting in a person with a disability having to wait months or years for access.
- Supporters say this bill will provide education to businesses and eliminate businesses paying monetary damages. These measures are redundant. The ADA doesn’t allow monetary damage awards (though some states do), and the ADA already provides extensive free education to businesses.
- Additional talking points and Twitter tips here.