Govt. Affairs

Please find a press release below from Senator Casey regarding HR 620:

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2018

Contact:
Jacklin Rhoads
202-228-6367 (o)
202-384-8989 (m)

Casey Statement On House of Reps. Decision to Continue Consideration of Disability Civil Rights Gutting Legislation

Washington, D.C. – On the eve of a planned vote by the House of Representatives on HR 620, the mis-named ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, U.S. Senator Bob Casey released the following statement:

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 as the last of the major civil rights laws. The ADA changed the landscape of the country by ensuring that all parts of communities were accessible to Americans with disabilities. Prior to the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities were often denied access to grocery stores, movie theaters, ball parks, trains and buses. With the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities were assured the rights to access all businesses and services offered to the general public without discrimination.

Now, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a misguided, mean-spirited bill that will significantly limit the rights of people with disabilities by removing the teeth of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

HR 620 will make it more difficult for people with disabilities to gain entrance to local stores, attend a play, or use a web site. This bill removes the need for a business or any organization that offers its services to the public to make those services accessible until a complaint is filed. The bill makes it more difficult to file a complaint and would make a person with a disability wait up to 180 days or more to gain access to services. That’s a long time to wait for a meal in a restaurant, to fill a prescription or to get a haircut.

I urge my House colleagues to vote no on this bill and recognize that Congress should be protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities, not weakening and discarding those rights.

HR 620 would make the over 50 million Americans with disabilities second class citizens. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed nearly 28 years ago, assuring the rights of people with disabilities to be treated as equals under the law. I will continue to fight to protect those rights and oppose any legislation that threatens those rights.”

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Emergency Briefing THIS AFTERNOON Regarding HR 620
1-866-439-4480
59741638#

Congress is on the verge of weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Tomorrow morning, lawmakers are expected to vote on HR 620 – the ADA Education and Reform Act – which removes incentives for businesses to comply with the ADA. This weakens the ADA and people with disabilities’ civil rights because it puts the weight of enforcing the ADA on their shoulders.

Today is our opportunity to stop it. We need you, and like-minded constituents, to tell Congress to vote AGAINST this cruel and unfair bill. Join today at 3:00 pm (ET) to protect the ADA by dialing 1-866-439-4480, 59741638#.

Even if you can’t call in, please take these steps immediately:

  • WHAT: Call your Member of Congress and tell them this bill weakens the rights of people you support.
  • WHEN: Today. Don’t Wait.
  • HOW: Call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 TTY and tell the operators your state and zip code. They will connect you to your representative.

SUGGESTED SCRIPT
“Hello, I am a constituent who cares deeply about people with disabilities. I am calling to ask the US Representative to oppose HR 620 – the ADA Education and Reform Act – because it removes incentives for businesses to comply with the ADA. This weakens the ADA and people with disabilities’ civil rights because it puts the weight of enforcing the ADA on their shoulders. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”

Join us today at 3:00 pm (ET) to hear the latest on this problematic legislation, including which legislators could make the difference.

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RCPA will be hosting our 2018 Capitol Day on Tuesday, April 17. During the day, RCPA will hold a press conference in the Main Rotunda and members will be asked to visit key legislators to discuss the state budget, legislation, and regulations that affect the day-to-day activities of our members.

More information will follow, but if you have questions or have suggestions regarding our 2018 Capitol Day, please contact Jack Phillips, Government Affairs Director/Senior Policy Officer.

This week the House of Representatives may consider HR 620, a House bill that will weaken Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act by removing any incentive for businesses, organizations, and anyone who provides services to the general public to make their services accessible.

HR 620 facts:

  • Removes any incentive for voluntary compliance;
  • Rewards non-compliance by allowing businesses generous additional timelines, even though the ADA’s very reasonable requirements are already over 25 years old! The ADA is already carefully crafted to take the needs of businesses into account;
  • Pretends that money damages requested from businesses are part of the ADA. Actually, this part of the ADA doesn’t even allow money damages, so changing the federal ADA will not affect any state law money damage provisions;
  • Ignores the extensive, free educational resources already available today to any business on how to comply with the ADA;
  • Ignores the effective & extensive methods already available to courts and state bar associations to deal with a very few frivolous lawsuits or unscrupulous attorneys. We should use those existing legal mechanisms when needed, rather than deny the civil rights established by the ADA that aid people with disabilities every day; and
  • Look behind the media myths: The vast majority of ADA attorneys and plaintiffs are seeking solutions to fix real denials of access. But the business community has pushed the media to portray “a few bad apples” as a landslide.

The House tentative schedule for the bill is as follows:

Tuesday –The House Rules Committee will meet today (February 13), likely in the later afternoon or evening, to determine the process for consideration of HR 620 on the House floor as well as amendments. Some amendments may try to “improve” the bill; this is not possible. The only way to “improve” a bill that eliminates civil rights is to remove all of its components. Improving a bill that will weaken or gut a set of civil rights really isn’t possible, so amendments are not a strategy. The Rules Committee will ultimately vote on how they will recommend consideration of HR 620 on the House floor, including the amount of time for debate and how or if amendments will be considered.
Wednesday — House leadership on both sides will be counting votes. The rules for considering HR 620 will be on the House floor. Leadership will likely speak to the rules that the Rules Committee has recommended. This will be a time for opposition to highlight the damage this bill will cause if passed.

Thursday — as of Monday morning, HR 620 was the only bill scheduled for a vote on Thursday; the vote will likely be an early afternoon vote. Reps. Hoyer, Scott, and Langevin will likely speak against the bill on the floor before the vote.

If the bill passes, then movement will shift to the Senate where there is not yet a companion bill introduced. We are speaking with many offices to determine what, if any, action will take place in the Senate, and will keep you informed as to that action.

Some additional talking points are as follows:

  • HR 620 removes the civil rights of all citizens with disabilities; it causes people with disabilities to wait for their right to access any service that all citizens have access to immediately. HR 620 asks people with disabilities to wait months — and in some cases years — to be able to enter a restaurant, hotel, store, theater, or to shop online. This would never be asked of any other group;
  • If businesses are concerned about bad actor lawyers, then stop the bad behavior of those lawyers — don’t eliminate the rights of over 50 million Americans because there are a handful of despicable attorneys;
  • If the civil rights of 50 million Americans can be eliminated, then the civil rights of other groups can be as well;
  • Vote “NO” on HR 620.

The bottom line is that HR 620 is being considered this week, has enormous support from over 100 Representatives, and will be voted on this week. Please contact your Congressman and ask them to vote NO. All members of the House of Representatives need to hear that there is great opposition to the bill and that it will permanently harm the civil rights of people with disabilities.

The 2018/19 budget provides a $74 million increase for services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. The amount annualizes significant investments from FY 17/18 and continues building capacity to increase the number of individuals served. Within this total, the budget targets $16 million to enroll 965 individuals with an intellectual disability or autism in waivers to provide supports and services so they can remain in their homes and communities. This includes the following:

  • 100 individuals from the emergency waiting list into the Consolidated Waiver;
  • 800 individuals into the Person/Family Directed Support Waiver and the Community Living Waiver;
  • 40 individuals from the interest list into the Adult Community Autism Programs (ACAP); and
  • 25 individuals transitioning from state centers to community placements.

Approximately 800 individuals with an intellectual disability or autism are leaving the special education system every year. This investment will fully alleviate the functional deterioration that occurs with individuals who are home with no activity, helping families to avoid a service “cliff” at age 21. The Community Living Waiver and Consolidated Waiver will allow counties to meet the growing needs of existing participants and provide support for high school graduates. Significantly, this budget will provide funding for students not only graduating in June of 2018, but also in June of 2019 to alleviate this ongoing concern.

Since Governor Wolf took office in 2015, funding for services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism has experienced $350 million in growth. For questions, contact Jack Phillips at or Carol Ferenz.