Thursday, January 17News That Matters

While Senate GOP is busy harming immigrants, the House GOP is going after the disabled

They’re just doing their sociopath thing this week, the Republicans in charge with Congress. If it’s not trying to rip families apart in the Senate, it’s rolling back the rights of disabled people in the House. Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has “promoted the integration, acceptance, and everyday rights of people with disabilities.” Republicans just can’t stand that, so they’re trying to gut it.

Under Title III of the ADA, private businesses must ensure new buildings are accessible and remove barriers in older buildings where it is “readily achievable”—a standard that considers the cost of the change and the resources of the business. For example, a major hotel chain might need to spend several thousand dollars to make a few of their rooms accessible, but a small business might only be expected to spend a few hundred dollars to grind down a three inch lip into a doorway, or to put a ramp up two stairs. Now a group of businesses led by the owners of large shopping malls have persuaded more than 100 representatives to introduce H.R. 620, the so-called “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.” This legislation would require people with disabilities who encounter access barriers at a business or facility to become legal experts on the code, to provide “notice” to the business of what code they are violating, and to wait six months or longer. And this isn’t even for the business to actually fix the problem—just for the business to make “substantial progress” towards accessibility.

Only after all these steps and months of waiting, would H.R. 620 authorize filing a lawsuit. Navigating such a process would be both complicated and time-consuming, which, of course, is the point of the bill.

Too many disabled people are already having to sue to be able to do everyday things like grocery shopping or going to movies or out to eat because business owners have refused to comply with the law. That’s supposedly what’s behind this attempt to gut it—there are too many bogus law suits being filed and it’s harming them.

So sure, let’s put even more barriers in front of people who need access—first physical then legal. Not to mention financial, because taking this on isn’t something most lay people would be inclined to do, so if they wanted to fight they’d have to pay a lawyer. Which the crafters of this legislation know very well most will not do. So the ADA would exist in name only, and business would be free to entirely ignore it and continue to shut out the disabled.

Republicans, making America 1918 again.