Save the ADA! Oppose H.R. 620

The inaptly named “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017”

A section of the H.R. 620 bill with a red X over it.

See extensive resources & links below to assist people fighting this draconian, misguided, damaging bill!

H.R. 620 would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a critical source of rights for people with disabilities to architectural access in public accommodations—that is, businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, etc.

H.R. 620:

  1. Removes any incentive for voluntary compliance.
  2. 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 business into account.
  3. 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; 
  4. Ignores the extensive, free educational resources already available today to any business on how to comply with the ADA. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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.

Resources against H.R. 620—feel free to use them:

  1. Talking Points Against H.R. 620
  2. See Senators’ and Representatives’ important public statements against H.R. 620:
    1. Sen. Patty Murray (D, WA) Statement on Disability Rights: Misguided, Harmful House Bill
      > Murray: “Immediately reverse course and drop any further attempts to move this bill forward …” <
    2. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) Statement on Facebook
      > Duckworth: “the notion that businesses … need more time … is ridiculous and offensive. This vote is a disgrace …” <
    3. Sen. Maggie Hassan released this statement after the House Judiciary Committee advanced H.R. 620, “which would undermine … protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act:”
      > Hassan: “I am deeply troubled …” <
    4. Sen. Bob Casey (D, PA) Statement on House Judiciary’s Decision To Advance Civil Rights Gutting Legislation
    5. Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D, VA), “Statement on Judiciary Committee Passing Bill Attacking Civil Rights for People with Disabilities
    6. Video of Rep. Jim Langevin (D, RI) statement on House Floor
  3. Myths and Truths About the “ADA Education and Reform Act” (H.R. 620)
  4. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s comments on H.R. 620
  5. DREDF National Action Alert against H.R. 620, including specific grassroots action steps to take with your member of Congress!
  6. California Action Alert by DREDF on H.R. 620, providing a sample constituent letter against the bill, and urging contacts with misguided Congressional co-sponsors to remove their names and oppose the bill.
  7. This nationwide letter was written by more than 200 disability, civil, human rights, and faith based organizations to Congress opposing H.R. 620. The letter was organized by the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities based in Washington D.C., and is posted on the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) website.
  8. Regulation of Attorneys Pursuing Disability Access Claims and Litigation. This legal memo explains the effective methods already available to courts and state bar associations to deal with the very few lawyers filing fraudulent or unethical lawsuits. Included are successful examples of courts’ disciplinary actions against such attorneys.
  9. See the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Resources page
  10. Spread the word about these excellent media stories!:
    1. See National Federation of the Blind (NFB) President Mark A. Riccobono’s opinion article in The Hill the day of the ADA anniversary: Passing the ADA Education and Reform Act would be a step backwards for equality and justice, July 26, 2017.
    2. Civil Rights Enforcement with a Twenty-Seven Year Grace Period, in The Progressive, by Mike Ervin, April 19, 2017.
    3. The Americans With Disabilities Act Is Under Attack in Congress, from Rewire, by Robyn Powell, May 30, 2017.
    4. Consumerist.com, Proposed Law Could Let Businesses Off The Hook
    5. Human Rights Watch, Will the US Weaken its Disability Laws?
  11. See DREDF alert about the House Judiciary Committee vote on September 7, 2017
  12. 110 California Organizations Call on Representatives to Oppose H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act.
    1. Letter to California Co-Sponsors of H.R. 620
    2. Letter to All California Members of Congress
  13. Other important letters
    1. DREDF letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein against H.R. 620 and similar bills
    2. Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Letter against H.R. 620
    3. Illinois letter: 55 disability rights, civil rights, and civic organizations in Illinois call on their Representatives to Oppose H.R. 620
    4. Letter against Rep. Terri Sewell cosponsorship of H.R. 620 from Dan Kessler, E.D., Disability Rights & Resources
    5. Letter against Rep. Jackie Speier cosponsorship (DOC) by disability advocate Ben McMullan, Center for Independence:
       

      Our offices have had a … great working relationship … on the anti-bullying bill against people with disabilities. … The bill at hand now does very much the opposite of what we tried to achieve through th[at] bill … six years ago. HR 620 carries out systematic bullying against people with disabilities. In addition to this many staff members of your office have suggested to me that the Congresswoman would back off this piece of legislation. That is why I am so adamant that the Congresswoman … revoke her sponsorship of HR 620… [Emphasis added]

  14. PVA Fact Sheet on H.R. 620
  15. Other grassroots advocacy resources
    1. Postcards against H.R. 620. They are 4″ x 6″, and must be print two-sided and then trimmed. These are addressed to Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), but advocates can fill in their members’ name (twice) & address.
    2. Advocacy handout sheets with phone & Twitter (DOCX). The current sheet lists California targets. Advocates can switch to your own organization’s logo, and your own target House members’ names, phone numbers, and Twitter handles. This info can be found at contactingcongress.org if you have the zip code, or state name, or the member’s name.