Feds Urge CA to Drop Anti-Access Ballot Initiative
The National Council on Disability, a federal body appointed by the President, has sent a letter to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, saying that it is "deeply concerned about California's proposed Opportunity to Repair Act of 2006." Lockyer, in his role as attorney general, has the authority to keep the initiative from going forward if he rules it illegal.
The proposed ballot measure, if passed by voters in November, would remove current damage provisions and attorneys' fees from lawsuits filed against inaccessible businesses. California disability activists are currently mounting an effort to keep the measure from going forward. (Read And The War Is On! Ragged Edge Online).
"Title III of the ADA was intended to balance the interests of small businesses with the accessibility concerns of people with disabilities," NCD Chair Lex Frieden wrote to Lockyer. "It is a myth that the ADA's requirements are too hard on small businesses. The proposed 'Opportunity to Repair Act'," he continues, would "encourage businesses that have not made themselves accessible, to do nothing until they get a letter of notification - thereby undermining the provisions of the ADA that were carefully constructed to phase in compliance as construction resources permit. No other civil rights law has a notice provision like this."
The NCD, an independent federal agency, makes recommendations to the President and Congress on disability policy and "is responsible for advising on the implementation, impact and effectiveness of the Americans with Disabilities Act," according to Frieden's letter to Lockyer.