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  NCIL urges action against ADA Notification Act
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 4, 2001

This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley has introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives HR 914 -- the ADA Notification Act. The measure is nearly identical to one Foley introduced a year ago as HR 3690. This year's bill was introduced March 7.

"This proposed amendment is a direct attack on the civil rights of 56 million Americans with disabilities and must be stopped," said the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) in a March 30 press release. "We say; if there are problems with lawyers and their ethical practices, don't fix the problems by eroding the civil rights of people with disabilities!"

If enacted, the bill would require a person with a disability, or that person's representative, to give a business or public entity a written explanation as to how it violated the accessibility provisions in the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The bill then would allow that business or public entity up to 90 days to correct the violations before a lawsuit could be filed.

Foley and his supporters say the legislation is designed to cut down on the number of so-called "frivolous" lawsuits that, some business owners say, are being filed by attorneys who only want to make money from settlements. Some have gone so far as to say the ADA Notification bill would protect people with disabilities from being exploited by such "rogue" attorneys.

Disability rights groups argue that if the bill is passed, people with disabilities would have the unfair and unusual burden of enforcing the federal law. Those entities that have ignored the discrimination law for the last ten years would be encouraged to hold off on making their accommodations accessible until after they are notified that they are being sued.

As HR 3690, the bill died quietly last year in spite of a great deal of attention given to it by the actor/director Clint Eastwood and, therefore, the mainstream media. In May, Eastwood testified before a U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Constitutional Subcommittee in support of ADA Notification. At that time, he was being sued by a woman who claimed that Eastwood's Mission Ranch Hotel in Carmel, California was not accessible to people who use wheelchairs. A jury in October determined that Eastwood was liable for three accessibility violations.

Sponsors of HR 914 include Reps. Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Mac Collins (R-GA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), John Doolittle (R-CA), Van Hilleary (R-TN), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Doug Ose (R-CA),. Clay Shaw (R-FL) and Bob Stump (R-AZ).

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommitee on the Constitution, chaired by Ohio Republican right-wing Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati.

Information on HR 914, including a link to the full text, is available at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:h.r.00914:

NCIL is asking advocates to contact their legislators to encourage them to defeat the ADA Notification bill and any other measures that would undermine the rights of people with disabilities. Contact information for members of the U.S. House of Representatives can be found at http://www.congress.org or by calling the U.S. Capitol at (202) 224-3121. An online form for writing your representative is available at www.house.gov/writerep

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