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.