Senator Roth’s Proposal to Protect Small Businesses, Ensure ADA Compliance Approved by State Assembly

September 10, 2015

The California State Assembly approved Senator Richard D. Roth’s (D-Riverside) proposal to protect California’s small businesses and ensure access for the disabled community on a bipartisan vote of 63-4 today.

Senate Bill 251 is supported by the California Chamber of Commerce as a “job creator,” and is a narrowly crafted provision that provides businesses with much needed disability access education, resources and training.

Senator Roth said: “25 years after the ADA was signed into law, many businesses still find themselves out of compliance.  While there has been significant emphasis on the ‘stick’ - punitive actions against businesses who do not comply - many would agree that enough emphasis has not been placed on the ‘carrot’ to incentivize and educate small business owners on how to comply with often changing disability access regulations.

“That’s why after nearly a year of negotiations with numerous stakeholders in the business and disability rights community, I am pleased the Assembly approved my common-sense measure to increase compliance with the ADA law.  SB 251 gives businesses the tools, resources and education necessary to comply with the law and increase access for all Californians.”

The Legislature has attempted to reform ADA access laws and regulations over the past decade, with the most recent and substantial measure being Senate Bill 1186 (2012) by former Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and former Senator Robert Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga).  While SB 1186 created important policies regarding Certified Access Specialists (CASPs) and compliance notification, there remain significant barriers to ensuring small businesses have the resources and tools necessary to maintain compliance with state and federal disability access laws.  As a result, many businesses throughout California have found themselves out of compliance with the law.   This situation has prevented Californians in the disability community from having full and equal access to facilities and services.

SB 251 allows small businesses that have been proactive in identifying access issues a reasonable amount of time to fix any problems identified before a lawsuit arises.  SB 251 also provides tax incentives for small business owners to make what are often cost-prohibitive access improvements, in an attempt to ensure full and fair access for all Californians.

SB 251 now returns to the state Senate for a procedural, “concurrence” vote after which it will go to the Governor for his consideration.


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