There were a handful of ADA-related bills introduced in the California Legislature this year. Just two actually went the distance and ended up on the Governor's desk. This blog is about Senate Bill 251, a bill that the Governor vetoed.
SB 251 contained several important provisions that would have helped California business owners deal with shakedown ADA lawsuits. Here are several parts of the bill that would have become law but for Governor Brown's veto.
120 Day Exemption from Liability The bill would have exempted a defendant from liability for minimum statutory damages if the business owner obtained a CASp report within 120 days and made improvements to fix any issues raised in the CASp report. This would have only applied if the CASp report was completed prior to the initiation of a lawsuit.
Expedited Local Review of ADA Building Plans The bill would have also required local planning agencies to expedite the review process for for plans submitted to remedy an alleged accessibility problem. This would have been an immense help because often times local planning agencies can be a roadblock to a business owner scrambling to remedy an ADA problem in response to a lawsuit.
New Tax Credit for Business Owners Also of importance to business owners, the bill would have created a tax credit specific to expenditures on access-related improvements. This would have helped soften the blow associated with being served with an ADA lawsuit. Bringing a building into compliance can be quite costly depending on the type of work needing to be done.
Sadly, none of these helpful ideas will become law. On October 10, 2015, Governor Brown vetoed SB 251. The sole reason for Governor Brown's veto was the fact that the bill created a new tax credit. This is unfortunate because several other great ideas to help reduce the impact of ADA lawsuits were taken down along with the tax credit.
If you have been served with an ADA lawsuit in Northern California, please contact me to discuss your options. I can be reached at (916) 333-2222.