Major Changes to American Disability Act – Last Week In Congress
Congress was back on break, taking advantage of their district work period. That means that your Representative was in an office near you.
This was your chance to call or set up a meeting with congress people; they may be holding town halls as well. Remember to stay tuned to the district schedule. Bookmark this page so you can check it every week or so. If not, come here and I’ll tell you what the schedule looks like.
While The Hill ws not active last week, the House passed a number of bills last week. One in particular makes major chances for the lives of disabled people. I’ll cover that and post the rest of schedule below.
H.R. 620 – ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017
Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
The ADA Act passed the house last week with 108 cosponsors — 97 Republicans and 11 Democrats. The vote was not very close with 225 in favor and 192 against. What’s in this polorizing bill?
The bill is an “update” in the law for disabled people, instituting a “notice and cure” period for disability lawsuits.This means that any person claiming discrimination must first provide written notice, allow 60 days for acknowledgment of the receipt of the complaint, plus an additional 120 days before legal action can be initiated. It’s important to note that no other civil rights legislation require such an extensive process. Why was it passed?
Well, Republicans “for modern times”, according to Republicans. Democrats say it is a detriment to disabled Americans’ and an attack on civil rights.
The original ADA or Americans Disability Act was a major peice of legislation that outlawed discrimination in employment, housing, on the basis of a disability.
It also mandated many of the accommodations such as wheelchair ramps we have on building s today. At the time, it passed without controversy. Sponsor Ted Poe (R-TX) created this legislation because of abuses he sees currently in the “integrity” of current law. Despite business owners best attempts to comply with the law, he argued in a press release, “certain attorneys and their pool of serial plaintiffs troll for minor, easily correctable ADA infractions so they can file a lawsuit and make some cash. There is a now whole industry made up of people who prey on small business owners and file unnecessary abusive lawsuits that abuse both the ADA and the business owners. This bill will change that by requiring that the business owners have time to fix what is allegedly broken. If they fail to correct the infractions the plaintiff retains all of their rights to pursue legal action. This legislation restores the purpose of the ADA: to provide access and accommodation to disabled Americans, not to fatten the wallets of attorneys.”
Fellow Representative Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who happens to be the first quadriplegic person to serve in Congress, disagrees. In an opinion article for The Hill Rep Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) talked about what life was like before the initial ADA was passed:
“We did not have access to public buildings, employment opportunities were scarce, and there were no legal protections against discrimination. I remember wanting to attend certain schools, family functions, or even professional events, but my participation was always dictated by the barriers I encountered. Each lost opportunity was a reminder that I am not like everyone else. Even if our country was founded by a belief that we can celebrate our differences while finding strength in our commonalities, I – like so many people with a disability – should not be limited because I cannot have a seat at the proverbial table of life – no matter the occasion.”
The rest of the schedule:
On Tuesday, the House met at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 4533 – To designate the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Lexington, Kentucky, as the “Lexington VA Health Care System” and to make certain other designations (Sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr / Veterans Affairs Committee)
2) H.R. 3542 – Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson / Foreign Affairs Committee)
3) H.Res. 129 – Calling on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign governments to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson / Foreign Affairs Committee)
4) H.R. 4376 – Department of Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
5) H.R. 4377 – Accelerating American Leadership in Science Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
6) H.R. 4378 – Nuclear Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Weber / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
7) H.R. 4675 – Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Roger Marshall / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
8) H.R. 3397 – Building Blocks of STEM Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jacky Rosen / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
9) H.R. 4979 – To extend the Generalized System of Preferences and to make technical changes to the competitive need limitations provision of the program, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert / Ways and Means Committee)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH
On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
H.R. 3978 – TRID Improvement Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. French Hill / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 3299 – Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick McHenry / Financial Services Committee)