HR. 620 - ADA Education and Reform Act

(Last updated February 12, 2018)


Summary

HR. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, would alter and weaken the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by prohibiting civil actions based on non-compliance with ADA accessibility requirements. Civil actions against businesses which fail to remove architectural barriers to access would be prohibited unless:

  1. the aggrieved person has provided written notice to the non-complying business, and
  2. the owners or operators of the business fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made, or they fail to remove the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description.

Under current law, businesses which are open to the public are required to ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities. The burden of enforcement and compliance-checking already falls largely on people with disabilities, who can either bring legal actions to force compliance or file a complaint with the Department of Justice. (Notably, per the ACLU, although some states do allow money damages to be sought in non-compliance lawsuits, federal law does not allow for money damages. HR. 620 would have no effect on state laws allowing money damages in ADA non-compliance suits.)

HR. 620 would further shift the burden of ADA enforcement onto people with disabilities by requiring them to take extra steps before bringing lawsuits to non-complying businesses. It would also allow businesses to delay lawsuits by up to six months: business owners would have 60 days to respond to written notices of non-compliance, and then 120 days to show "substantial progress" in removing barriers to access. However, because "substantial progress" is not clearly defined, business owners might be able to delay full compliance for years while avoiding lawsuits. This provides a strong incentive for businesses not to comply with accessibility requirements, and a strong disincentive for people with disabilities to file complaints.

Proponents of the bill claim that it is designed to reduce the number of predatory lawsuits brought under the ADA by unscrupulous law firms. However, it is notable that Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted down four amendments offered by Democrats which would have narrowed the scope of the bill to apply only to predatory lawsuits (see list below).

Relevant Links:


Status

Introduced into the House on January 24, 2017 by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX-2) and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-9 to advance the bill on September 7, 2017. All present and voting Republicans voted for the bill, and all present and voting Democrats voted against the bill.

San Diego County Co-Sponsors:

  • Susan Davis: No
  • Duncan Hunter: YES
  • Darrell Issa: YES
  • Scott Peters: YES
  • Juan Vargas: No

As of September 18, 2017, the bill has 12 Democratic co-sponsors.

Democratic Co-Sponsors:

Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY-3) had previously been a co-sponsor of the bill but withdrew his sponsorship on July 20, 2017. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL-3) had previously been a co-sponsor of the bill but withdrew his sponsorship on October 31, 2017.


Call Scripts

Call script for Democratic Members of Congress who DO support HR. 620:

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to express my disappointment that _____ (MoC's name) has decided to co-sponsor HR. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act. As a Democrat, _____ (MoC's name) should be working to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, not throw them under the bus. HR. 620 hurts people with disabilities by making it harder to enforce ADA accessibility requirements, and it does nothing to reduce frivolous lawsuits. I am calling on _____ (MoC's name) to vote against it when it comes to the House floor. Thank you."

Call script for Republican Members of Congress who DO support HR. 620:

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to express my disappointment that _____ (MoC's name) has decided to co-sponsor HR. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act. HR. 620 hurts people with disabilities by making it harder to enforce ADA accessibility requirements, and it does nothing to reduce frivolous lawsuits. I am calling on _____ (MoC's name) to vote against it when it comes to the House floor. Thank you."

Call script for Members of Congress who DO NOT support HR. 620:

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to ask _____ (MoC's name) to please vote against HR. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, when it comes to the House floor. This harmful bill would hurt people with disabilities by making it harder to enforce ADA accessibility requirements. We should be doing more to protect our vulnerable communities, not punish them. Thank you."

 

Duncan Hunter

El Cajon: (619) 448-5201
Temecula: (951) 695-5108
DC: (202) 225-5672

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Juan Vargas

SD County: (619) 422-5963
Imperial County: (760) 312-9900
DC: (202) 225-8045

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