Tag Archives: Americans with Disabilities Act

Amodei’s Explanation?

February 15, 2018: Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) cast his “yes” vote for HR 620, the Americans with Disabilities Education and Reform Act.

Here’s Section 3 of that bill:

(Sec. 3) The bill prohibits civil actions based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation unless: (1) the aggrieved person has provided to the owners or operators a written notice specific enough to identify the barrier, and (2) the owners or operators fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to improve the barrier or they fail to remove the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description. The aggrieved person’s notice must specify: (1) the address of the property, (2) the specific ADA sections alleged to have been violated, (3) whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier was made, and (4) whether the barrier was permanent or temporary.

And this summation from Newsweek describes the bill’s possible consequences:

“The bill would effectively gut the ADA, detractors argue. Without a fear of being sued, businesses might be inclined to ignore ADA compliance rules. Critics of the bill also believe people with disabilities should not bear the responsibility of making sure businesses are compliant with the law.

“Instead of expecting businesses to own the responsibility of complying with civil rights laws, it shifts the burden to the individual who is being denied access,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in a letter to congressional representatives on Thursday.

The ACLU called the bill unacceptable. “This scheme removes the business’s incentive to proactively ensure that it is accessible to people with disabilities,” it said. “Instead, businesses will simply wait until someone’s right to access is violated and notification is received before making the change they were already obligated to make.” (emphasis added)

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), argued businesses were subjected to “drive by” lawsuits concerning implementation of ADA requirements, and therefore “reform” was necessary.   However, shifting the burden of proof from the entity charged with denying appropriate access to the person making the complaint is a rather blunt instrument for assisting the disabled, and a boon to those who make accessibility difficult if not impossible.  And Representative Mark Amodei voted “yes.”  He’s fine with turning the ADA on its head.

He might want to explain this vote to the 108,054 (2015 AFB) people in Nevada who are significantly visually impaired?  There are other people to whom Representative Amodei might wish to explain his vote —  The Institute on Disability (University of New Hampshire) estimates that between 1.0% and 2.1% of Nevadans under 5 years of age were disabled, 5.7%-6.1% of those aged 5 to 17; 10.7% – 12.5% aged 18 to 64; and 33% to 35.1% over age 65. (pdf)  But Amodei’s protecting businesses from a gazillion frivolous lawsuits, right?…. Maybe not so much.

About those ‘frivolous” lawsuits, let’s hear from an advocate for the disabled:

“To be fair, I vehemently oppose frivolous ADA lawsuits for monetary gain. I cherish this law and hate hearing that some misuse it. However, frivolous lawsuits are not as prevalent as some believe. An analysis of ADA lawsuits in 2016 identified just 12 individuals and one organization that have filed more than 100 lawsuits each. And these lawsuits are not an ADA issue; they are a state and court problem. Indeed, ethics rules bar attorneys from bringing frivolous lawsuits. Rather than go after people with disabilities, attention should be focused on stopping these few bad attorneys.”

We can reasonably conclude that House Republicans have decided to “protect” businesses at the risk of targeting the disabled instead of unscrupulous attorneys.  Some explication is required.  At least it would be polite for Representative Amodei to offer one.

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Heller: Tin Foil Hat or Chamber of Commerce Flunkie? (UpDate)

Vote 219

And there we have it. A treaty needs a 2/3rds majority to be ratified by the Senate and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) donned his tin foil chapeau to join fellow conspiracy theorists in the failure of the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Disabled.    What could possibly have gone wrong with a Treaty based on U.S. statutes, negotiated by the Bush Administration, and supported by 300 disability advocacy organizations, 21 veterans organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Wounded Warriors Project?  What might be controversial about a convention signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126?   [Reuters] Paranoia?

“The opposition was led by tea party favorite Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who argued that the treaty by its very nature threatened U.S. sovereignty. Specifically he expressed concerns that the treaty could lead to the state, rather than parents, determining what was in the best interest of disabled children in such areas as home schooling, and that language in the treaty guaranteeing the disabled equal rights to reproductive health care could lead to abortions. Parents, Lee said, will “raise their children with the constant looming threat of state interference.” [HuffPo]

Really? The Black Helicopter Blue Helmet Brigades are going to swoop into the Silver State and ‘force’ parents of disabled children to change educational plans? Allow disabled individuals the right to necessary medical procedures — Heaven Forefend! — a disabled woman might elect to have an abortion rather than risk her life during an unsustainable pregnancy?

Senator Heller, Where’s that “constant looming threat of state interference?”  Nevada’s junior Senator was pleased to issue a press release indicating he’d voted for military spending yesterday — but there is nary a peep on his government sponsored web page about his vote against the rights of veterans who return from military operations with disabilities.  Do we have the message correctly?  By Senator Heller’s lights it is patriotic to vote in favor of Defense spending, but unconscionable to vote for a “constant looming threat of state interference” when asked to approve a measure supporting the rights of disabled members of the military when they return home?

But, Think Of The Children!  Well, Senator Heller has thought of children before — he voted against SCHIP legislation whenever he was given an opportunity.  Which might we suppose keeps parents of disabled children awake more often — the looming threat of the UN marching in to revise a child’s IEP? Or, the looming threat that some insurance company won’t cover a child with a pre-existing medical condition?  Senator Heller’s call for repealing the Affordable Care Act if actuated would certainly make that nightmare come true.

Is Senator Heller fearful that the terms of the convention might be construed to allow a disabled woman for whom a pregnancy would likely be fatal to undergo the procedure?  He was only too happy to announce his opposition to the Affordable Care Act which requires insurance corporations to cover pre-natal and well infant medical services.  He was adamant about repealing the ACA and its provisions requiring insurance corporations to include childhood immunizations in basic policies.  So, now he’s worried about the children and their mothers?

Perhaps it isn’t so much a matter of tin foil hats as  it is Senator Heller’s fear of offending the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a history of opposition to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and which opposed the restoration of the ADA in 2007 (letter to Congress pdf).   The Chamber continues to oppose any rewriting of regulations to enhance the rights of disabled persons:

“Much of the justification for the proposed stricter standards is based on anecdotal evidence with no basis in fact. We are concerned that the process employed by the ATBCB in raising the standards was lacking, and that the resulting substantive standards are based on nothing more than subjective opinion. We will continue to monitor all developments, either by the ATBCB, OMB, or DOJ, related to this issue.” [Chamber of Commerce]

Merciful Heavens, we (according to the Chamber of Commerce) must do nothing to facilitate access to business and commerce, or to enhance the prospects of persons with disabilities — if it might in any way encroach on the corporate bottom line!

So, with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) a disabled veteran of the Viet Nam War, and with former Senator and GOP standard bearer Robert Dole (KS) a disabled veteran from World War II looking on… Senator Dean Heller joined the Tin Foil Hat Crowd, while genuflecting to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and voted against ratification of the convention.  Shame.

UPDATE: Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a statement on the subject which reads in part —

“This treaty, already ratified by 125 countries, would hold foreign nations to the same high standard of treatment the U.S. already maintains for people with disabilities.  And it would safeguard American citizens traveling, working and serving abroad.  The treaty has the support of veterans groups and disability groups from around the country.  It wouldn’t cost taxpayers a penny. It wouldn’t require any changes to existing U.S. law. And the issue is as bipartisan as they come. This is what one Senator said about the treaty:  “Protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, ANY person, is not a political issue. It is a human issue, regardless of where in the world a disabled person strives to live a normal, independent life where basic rights and accessibilities are available. Disability rights and protections have always been a bipartisan issue and ratifying this treaty should be no different.”

That wasn’t some ultra-liberal. That was Senator John McCain, a veteran, who broke with the extremists and Tea Partiers in his party and voted to ratify the treaty.
The Convention also had strong support from a number of other leading Republicans, including President George H.W. Bush and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.  Senator Dole, a disabled veteran of World War II who led the fight to pass the treaty, was here yesterday urging Republicans to support it.

One by one, those Republicans greeted the 89-year-old war hero and patriot, who just last week was in Walter Reed hospital. And then, one by one, all but a handful of them voted against the treaty – ensuring its failure.  But their professed reasons for opposing it had no basis in fact. Even many Republicans acknowledge that.  There is no justification for sending a message / that every individual around the world / who strives to lead a full and productive life / in spite of a disability / does not deserve the same just treatment.  There is no justification for telling disabled Americans – especially those who have sacrificed their very bodies for our freedom – that they do not deserve the same protections abroad / that they do at home.”

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