In the News

May 11, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — After it passed the California Legislature unanimously, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill giving protections to small businesses against frivolous Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits.

Under Senate Bill 269, which takes effect immediately, businesses with under 50 employees will be given additional time to fix ADA violations before being slapped with fines from the state. If sued, businesses would also be allowed 15 days to address violations claimed in the lawsuit.

The bill's author, state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, called Brown's signing a "major victory for all Californians."

"SB 269 is a bipartisan, common-sense solution that will guarantee access for disabled Californians by providing small businesses with the tools and resources necessary to comply with state and federal disability access regulations," Roth said in a statement.

May 10, 2016

By Reed Fujii
Record Staff Writer 

Legislation to protect small businesses against costly lawsuits and fines over minor violations of disabled access laws, while helping increase access, was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The reform of the state’s Americans with Disabilities Act rules gives a small business, one with 50 or fewer employees, 120 days to correct any violations found by an access specialist and protect it from any claims during that period.

It also would protect a small business from certain minor ADA violations, giving it 15 days to make corrections without any penalties. Those violations involve outside and interior signage; parking lot striping color and visibility; and detectable warning surfaces (bumpy ground strips).

May 10, 2016

Small businesses will get an opportunity to fix handicap access violations without liability with Sen. Roth’s SB269.


A bill that gives small businesses four months to fix disability access issues and avoid California’s minimum civil liability of $4,000 for each violation if certain conditions are met, was signed into law Tuesday, May 10, by Gov. Jerry Brown

April 26, 2016

By Julie Reeder

RIVERSIDE  – A Riverside County lawmaker’s bill aimed at deterring disability rights lawsuits targeting small businesses was unanimously approved today by the state Senate.

Sen. Richard Roth’s SB 269 passed on a 38-0 vote and is now bound for the governor’s desk. “SB 269’s unanimous approval proves that my proposal is a common-sense, bipartisan solution to protect the disabled community and small businesses,” Roth said.

The senator introduced the measure in January as a repackaged version of his SB 251, which made it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk last year but was vetoed after the governor repudiated it over a small business tax credit.

April 25, 2016


The Americans with Disabilities Act was intended to prohibit discrimination against people with physical or mental impairments and to improve access for the disabled to public accommodations. Too often, however, it has been used to shake down businesses for minor violations, such as a door sign affixed an inch too high or too low or a disabled parking logo that is a little too faded or painted in the wrong shade of blue.

California is a particular magnet for extortionary ADA litigation, thanks to state law which mandates a minimum $4,000 penalty for each violation – no matter how small – plus the plaintiff’s attorney fees. It is home to about 12 percent of the country’s disabled population, but accounts for 40 percent of ADA lawsuits. Its disability access lawsuits were one of the main reasons the American Tort Reform Foundation once again named California the nation’s No. 1 “Judicial Hellhole” last year.

April 22, 2016

By Liam Dillon

It has been called the most important climate change agency in the world, with a budget that might soon reach $1 billion, a four-fold increase in the last decade.

The California Air Resources Board's unremarkable name belies its power to influence how much you pay at the gas pump and the car you’ll be driving in 30 years. 

The agency’s growing influence over environmental issues and the economy has increasingly led to tension among state lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor has counted on the agency and its longtime leader, Mary Nichols, to put into practice his sweeping goals to combat climate change around the world.

But it’s the Air Resources Board’s efforts to deal with pollution closer to home that led to the most recent move by the Legislature to loosen the governor's grip over the agency — a decision that could reshape how the state plans to meet its goals for dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

April 15, 2016

By Rob McMillan

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside police officer Andrew Tachias is still recovering from the bullet wounds, more than three years after being shot nine times by rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner.

Under current state law, cities only have to pay the full salary of wounded officers like Tachias for one year. After that, they can go on disability, but might be forced to retire early.

But some officers, like Tachias, want the state to grant them extra time to recover, allowing them to avoid early retirement and eventually get back on the force.

"What I want to say to you guys, is that it would be tough at the time I got injured to be 28 years old and be retired," Tachias told a State Senate committee last week.

The legislation sponsored by state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, would require cities to pay the full salary of wounded officers for an extra year, before the costs were covered by the disability system.

April 15, 2016

The local Boys & Girls Club in the Casitas del Valle public housing community in Moreno Valley where Adrian Johnson lives gave him a sense of purpose.

The Rancho Verde High senior, who began going to the club three years ago, had struggled in school. He also felt like he had to fight to stay on a positive path amid the negativity in his neighborhood.

“I didn’t want to be trapped by all of the negative influences around me,” said Johnson, 17. “There was a lot of drug activity and gang activity. I wanted to get away from everything happening.”

When he came to the club, he was a previously home-schooled sophomore who was trying to adjust to being on a campus. He struggled to find his way, and coming to the club he changed his outlook and improved his focus.

April 14, 2016


At last, a remedy appears to be on the horizon for Riverside and San Bernardino counties’ critical – and long-standing – shortage of judges.

A three-pronged attack on the problem is being mounted from the governor’s office, the state Legislature and the Judicial Council, the policymaking body of California’s court system.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2016-17 state budget suggests moving five vacant judgeships – and, importantly, their support staffs – to courts in counties that desperately need them. Riverside and San Bernardino counties are at the top of the list.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a bill that would allocate $5 million to hire 12 new judges, of 50 positions that were approved but never funded. It’s the same legislation Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, successfully passed last year but the governor vetoed.

April 04, 2016

By Ralph Vartabedian

California's plan to pay for construction of the $64-billion bullet train has many unanswered questions and shaky assumptions, senators from across the state told rail officials Monday.

"We want you to beef up your financing package," Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), a longtime supporter of the high-speed project, said at a hearing of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, which he chairs.

Republican lawmakers were even tougher. "I think the financing is shaky here," said Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber). "It seems like it is careening down the tracks."

The committee was responding to a draft business plan the California High-Speed Rail Authority released in February. The authority said it could build an initial $20.7-billion operating segment from San Jose to the Central Valley with funding it expects over the next nine years.

But the agency could not identify the source of money to complete the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco system. That leaves a $43.5-billion gap in the business plan, scheduled for approval later this month.