On September 18, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced legislation with the Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee Bob Casey (D-PA), U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to make it easier for small businesses to become accessible for people with disabilities and help those businesses comply with the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act bolsters the existing Disabled Access Credit (DAC), which helps businesses pay for renovations by doubling the maximum tax credit and allowing more small businesses to receive it. The legislation also invests in programs that mediate ADA-related disputes to avoid additional litigation and help individuals and businesses understand the ADA.
“I’m proud to work with Senators Casey, Hassan and Klobuchar on this important legislation to strengthen the ADA and give Americans with disabilities increased opportunity to fully participate in our society, Duckworth said. “This bill will help more businesses across the country comply with a nearly 30-year-old law that protects the rights of people with disabilities. It is a common-sense alternative to misguided efforts like the ADA Education and Reform Act, which would roll back hard-earned protections for people with disabilities by rewarding businesses who refuse to comply with the ADA instead of encouraging them to become accessible.”
“This bill is a win-win for Indiana and the nation,” Casey said. “It supports small businesses and increases access for people with disabilities.”
“It is imperative that Americans who experience disabilities are fully included and have the support they need to thrive at home, in school, at work, and in all aspects of their lives,” Hass ni.
d “I am proud to co-sponsor this measure with Senators Duckworth, Klobuchar, and Casey that will expand the tax credit that helps ensure that small businesses can accommodate and include those who experience disabilities, as well as to provide funding to better support the needs of individuals and businesses who seek accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I will continue working across party lines to build on our nation’s promise of equality and inclusion to ensure that all Americans and Granite Staters, regardless of personal circumstance, have the opportunity to join in our shared success.”
“This bill will help people with disabilities access our small businesses,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will help ensure that any and all customers can access their favorite local store.”
The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act would:
Expand the Disabled Access Credit (DAC): Increase eligible expenses businesses can write off in order to make their facilities ADA-compliant to $20,500, double the maximum credit from $5,000 to $10,125, and expand the definition of small businesses to companies with gross receipts of $2.5 million or less from $1 million or less.
Increase Funding for the ADA Mediation Program: Make the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ADA Mediation Program eligible to receive funding to train contracted mediators and increase personnel to help individuals with disabilities and businesses reach a resolution without increased litigation. The legislation would appropriate $1 million for the 2019 fiscal year to support these efforts.
Collect ADA Information Line Data: Require DOJ to provide a report to Congress on the specific types of calls the ADA Information Line receives in order to improve the ways individuals with disabilities and businesses learn about their rights and how facilities can become ADA-compliant.
Duckworth has led efforts to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and block the misleadingly-named ADA Education and Reform Act, a Republican-led bill that would reward businesses for failing to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities. In March, Duckworth secured the opposition of 42 of her Senate colleagues, enough to block the bill from being passed in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would have gutted the ADA by eliminating incentives for businesses of any size, including the largest corporate hotel, restaurant and movie theater chains, to ensure their facilities are in compliance with the ADA.
In July, Duckworth spoke about her efforts to stop the passage of the ADA Education and Reform Act and expand disability rights at the Beyond the ADA: Introducing Disability Justice Initiative event hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP). She is also a co-sponsor of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) Disability Integration Act, which would help ensure Americans with disabilities are given the option to live independent lives and access care in their communities rather than being forced into institutional care.
The Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act has been endorsed by Access Living, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of Independent Living (NCIL), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF), National Associations of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), Autism Society, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Ability Center of Greater Toledo and United Spinal Association.