Central Valley legislators banned together last year to create the bipartisan San Joaquin Valley Caucus, with the goal of addressing the unique needs of Valley constituents. One of the caucus'; priorities— Americans with Disabilities Act reform — is closer to reality as SB 269, a bill that will help small businesses improve their disability access and prevent lawsuits, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
“To start up and run a business in California is not an easy task, especially when state laws make them vulnerable to predatory lawsuits.” said Assembly member Kristin Olsen, a co-author of the bill. “Today’s hearing showed that stakeholders from both sides of the aisle and all corners of the State recognize the need to provide small businesses a commonsense level of protection from lawsuit abuse.”
ADA legislation has been abused by individuals across the state filing frivolous lawsuits in an effort to make money off of predominantly small business owners. Additionally, changes are made to federal and state construction-related accessibility regulations each year, which makes it difficult for small businesses to maintain compliance.
Rather than face costly litigation, SB 269 gives small businesses with less than 50 employees the time they need to address access violations. Those who have hired a Certified Access Specialist would have 120 days to make specified minor repairs to their establishments. Also, businesses that have been made aware of lawsuits filed against them have 15 days to address specified violations. The legislation also requires state agencies and local government building departments to send regular updates of changing ADA laws.
“This bill represents the hard work and dedication of dozens of legislators and community-driven stakeholders who have come together to solve a critical problem on behalf of our state’s businesses,” said Olsen.
SB 269 passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 9 to 0 vote and will be heard in Assembly Appropriations committee next week.