CalChamber-Supported Job Creator Bill Passes Assembly Policy Committee

A California Chamber of Commerce-supported job creator bill that seeks to limit frivolous litigation and claims regarding construction-related accessibility violations unanimously passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee yesterday.

SB 269 (Roth; D-Riverside) provides businesses that have proactively sought to become Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant with an opportunity to resolve any identified violation.

It is a balanced approach between preserving the civil rights of those who are disabled to ensure their access to all public accommodations, while limiting the number of frivolous lawsuits threatened or filed against businesses that do not improve accessibility.

SB 269 seeks to incentivize businesses to proactively take steps to become accessible by providing them with 120 days from receipt of a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) report to resolve any violations identified without being subject to statutory penalties or litigation costs. This proposal will assist businesses who are trying to ensure they are in compliance from being subject to frivolous claims or litigation.

SB 269 also provides a limited period for businesses to resolve violations of minor, technical construction-related standards that do not actually impede access to the public.

Specifically, SB 269 provides businesses with 15 days from the service of the summons and complaint to resolve any alleged violation regarding signage, parking lot conditions, and detectable warning surfaces.

This limited period will provide a small business owner with the opportunity to devote financial resources to resolving these minor issues before being subjected to statutory penalties and attorney fees.

SB 269 further requires the California Commission on Disability Access to post educational materials for business owners regarding how to comply with California’s construction-related accessibility standards, as well as share that information with local agencies and departments. Notice and education are key components to helping create more accessible public accommodations and limiting frivolous claims or litigation.

Tax Credit Vetoed

A bill from 2015 was very similar to SB 269. CalChamber-supported SB 251 (Roth; D-Riverside), also a job creator, would have limited frivolous litigation and claims regarding construction-related accessibility violations by providing businesses that have proactively sought to become ADA compliant with an opportunity to resolve any identified violations and providing a tax credit for such improvements.

On October 10, 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. vetoed SB 251 and several other bills. In his veto message, Governor Brown said that “Despite strong revenue performance over the past few years, the state’s budget has remained precariously balanced due to unexpected costs and the provision of new services…Given these financial uncertainties, I cannot support providing additional tax credits that will make balancing the state’s budget even more difficult.”

In an effort to move the bipartisan-supported bill forward, the bill’s author, Senator Richard Roth, removed the tax credit language.

Key Vote

SB 269 unanimously passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee 10-0 yesterday.

Ayes: Alejo (D-Salinas), Chau (D-Monterey Park), Chiu (D-San Francisco), Gallagher (R-Yuba City), C. Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Holden (D-Pasadena) , Maienschein (R-San Diego), Stone (D-Scotts Valley), O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), Wagner (R-Irvine).

SB 269 will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee; no hearing date set.

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera