MAY 2012 – Senator Bob Dutton and Senator Steinberg rewrite SB 1186

          Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has joined with Senator Bob Dutton as an author for Senate Bill 1186 in an effort to help California businesses comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) without facing the threat of a lawsuit.

            “Senator Steinberg and I have had some very extensive talks about this issue of predatory lawsuits, which are being filed under theADA. Both of us agree that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed,” Senator Dutton said. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to finally fix this problem that has plagued thousands of small businesses throughoutCalifornia, while at the same time protect the rights of the disabled community.”

            Senator Dutton called the current version of SB 1186 a work-in-progress. The bill will be amended during the next four months before a vote of the final version of the bill is taken. While the newest version of the bill does not allow for a “fix it” approach to businesses served with demands, it is a small step forward in the battle. The bill’s first hearing is set for May 8 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

            The current legislation aims to look at a multitude of possible solutions to reduce litigation and improve compliance.  These options, among many, include improving our CASp program and education efforts. They also include examining whether it would be sound policy to allow certain businesses an opportunity to correct a minor violation of a physical accessibility requirement where that violation does not actually impede access.  

            “I’m glad that there is an opportunity to work with Senator Steinberg in a bi-partisan manner to help solve this serious problem,” Senator Dutton said. “Both of us agree that no disabled person should ever be denied access to a business. We both also see that there are predatory lawyers who are taking advantage of the ADA to prey onCaliforniasmall businesses, who are struggling to survive during these tough economic times. Senator Steinberg and I are both committed to working in the coming months to craft a final version of this legislation that protects both the handicapped community and businesses in California.”