Friday February 19 marked the deadline for legislators to introduce bills for this year, and our team has been working to analyze the several hundreds of bills introduced to determine which ones might help or hurt small business.
We wanted to point out a handful of bills that we are tracking in the legal reform subject area. Lawsuit abuse it a serious and growing threat to small business owners when a private attorney—who has personally experienced no denial of access or services—can take action against a business for a minor correctable violation, all just to receive a hefty payout in a private settlement.
This is why over 40% of all lawsuits of this nature in the nation are filed in California: because there is immense profit incentivizing trial lawyers to prey on small business owners. Below are five bills we are watching that have the potential to move the needle of legal reform in the right direction in California:
Senate Bill 269 (Roth) is a reintroduction of SB 251, which was vetoed by Governor Brown due to a tax credit in the bill which has since been removed in this new version. This bill allows businesses 15 days to correct certain technical violations, such as improper signage, faded paint in parking spaces, and warning surfaces on ramps and passageways. The bill also allows 120 days to fix construction related defects, which allegedly cause harm (like embarrassment), if the business had been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) and was deemed compliant.
Assembly Bill 54 (Olsen): Current law requires plaintiffs’ attorneys to submit a copy of any complaint and demand letter to the California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA). This bill requires the submissions to be in a format specified by the Commission.
Senate Bill 1406 (Mendoza) ensures that complaints and demand letters sent to public entities are also submitted to the CCDA.
Assembly Bill 2780 (Holden) restructures the CCDA to have staggered terms.
Assembly Bill 2873 (Thurmond) is a placeholder bill dealing with CASps.
Legislators are increasingly recognizing that ADA legal abuse is a major problem for both small business and for individuals who truly need improved access and accommodations. While Senate Bill 269 represents a significant step to address this, other smaller bills we are watching also make a big difference by making long-term incremental change to improve our state’s legal climate.
As always, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like additional information.
State Executive Director