October 13, 2015

Gov. Brown vetoes Roth bill to help small businesses meet handicap access

Brown cites SB 251’s tax credits; Sen. Richard Roth says the reasoning in the governor’s statement leaves him ‘confused.’

BY RICHARD K. De ATLEY / The Press-Enterprise

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill by State Sen. Richard Roth, a Riverside Democrat, that would have given small business owners tax credits for costs of bringing their businesses up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The bill, SB 251, provided 10 percent of access-compliance expenditures up to $10,250 annually for defined small businesses.

Brown said in his Oct. 10 veto statement that he could not support providing additional tax credits against a state budget that he called “precariously balanced due to unexpected costs and the provision of new services.”

The bill was one of nine that carried tax credits which the governor vetoed over the weekend.

Roth said in a statement Monday, Oct. 12 that he was “baffled” by the initial voice mail Saturday from Brown’s office that the bill, SB 251, would be vetoed and “confused” by the governor’s statement.

Brown said without the extension of the managed care organization tax that he called for in a special legislative session, next year’s budget faced the prospect of “over $1 billion in cuts.”

Roth was the primary sponsor of the bill, which had bipartisan support and passed the state Senate unanimously in June.

“This governor has signed tax credits into law considerably higher than the one proposed by SB 251,” Roth said Monday. “However... this governor felt a relatively inexpensive tax credit outweighed the need to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act while protecting small business owners.”

SB 251 was introduced after several small-business owners in Riverside were sued for ADA violations in recent years, often by the same plaintiffs and filed by the same law firms.

They complained that the resolution of the lawsuit was more costly than fixing the violations.

“The disabled community and small business owners agreed the tax credit was a wise and prudent part of this proposal,” Roth said.

Along with tax credits, the bill also set a procedure for small businesses to get 120 days to fix, without facing statutory penalties, any ADA violations cited by a hired Certified Access Specialist (CASp), and 15 days from written notice or lawsuit to fix ADA violations limited to signage, parking lot paint stripes or detectable warning surfaces.

Neither grace period excluded actual damages and injunctive relief, and the law did not eliminate lawsuits as a cure for ADA violations.

“Our region has always had to fight for its fair share from Sacramento,” Roth said, adding, “My job is to fight for Inland Southern California and represent all my constituents.”


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