Dear California disability advocates,
The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a very dangerous bill, H.R. 620, which seriously threatens to weaken the enforcement of ADA access rights. You probably saw DREDF's nationwide alert from April 17 with extensive information, including Talking Points.
California has a unique role to play! Given California's large delegation in the House, and our state's debate on this issue, it is crucial that all California House members hear from their constituents.
Please go to contactingcongress.org, and insert your zip code to find many simple methods for contacting your House representative: via e-mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter, fax, etc. or use other channels that you know, to contact your Congressional Representatives.
Help on what to say can be found in the sample letter below and in the Talking Points and Alert linked above.
Express your strong opposition to H.R. 620 and any similar bills that would weaken the rights of people with disabilities under the ADA to access restaurants, stores, hotels, etc. like everyone else can take for granted.
As many of you know, California law has already been changed to address the business community's concerns. But House bill H.R. 620 goes far beyond current California law, and if passed, would impose far more draconian limitations on our civil rights.
Yet, among the bill's co-sponsors, many are from California:
Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
Rep. Luis Correa (D-CA)
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
While the business community has invested extensive resources into this bill to weaken the ADA's reasonable mandates, our community has been stretched thin to defend rights and programs needed by people with disabilities in the Trump era. Yet we must resist this attack on our ADA rights, which are crafted to be reasonable and have stood the test of time for nearly 27 years.
If your House Representative is a co-sponsor (list above), we must still urge them to remove their name, or at least, to vote against H.R. 620—which other House members have done, once they hear our side of the story. If they are not, please urge them to oppose this drastic, unnecessary bill. If you have stories of what it means for people with disabilities to face architectural barriers, please tell them—that's our best way to show the urgency of a strong ADA.
Please also contact Senator Kamala Harris, urging her opposition to this and similar bills! H.R. 620 could progress to the Senate soon.
Email contact form
To learn more about this bill read DREDF's nationwide alert.
Please act today!
Dear Representative ___________:
Please oppose HR 620. Under H.R. 620, there would be no consequences for violating the civil rights of people with disabilities, which means there will be no incentive to comply with the ADA. The ADA is what allows us go out into our own communities! Why should a wheelchair user be unable to join her family at a restaurant, just because the owner has resisted installing a ramp for 25 years? Especially when there is are tax incentives available to build that ramp and remove other barriers.
No other group in our country is forced to carry the burdens in H.R. 620 to enforce their civil rights. Why must people with disabilities be treated like second class citizens? This bill means businesses would face no consequence for having violated the the ADA for years or decades.
Supporters of this bill have raised concerns about money damage awards, but that has nothing to do with the ADA, because the ADA does not allow money damages. The ADA only requires existing businesses to provide access if it's "readily achievable"—the ADA was carefully crafted from its beginnings almost 27 years ago to take business needs into account.
Supporters of H.R. 620 also cite concerns about frivolous lawsuits or serial litigants. But courts and bar associations already have extensive power to deal with any frivolous litigants or their attorneys. We should use those existing legal mechanisms when needed, rather than denying the civil rights established by the ADA. And there are already extensive federal efforts to educate business owners about their ADA obligations.
H.R. 620 will take the heart out of the ADA by denying people with disabilities our basic civil rights, and undermine the very principles of an inclusive society that America is all about.