Governor Brown Signs Bill to Relieve Lawsuit Burden on Small Business

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 269 (Roth) which gives some relief to small business. Among other things, the bill allows small businesses that hire a Certified Access Specialist to inspect their facilities a chance to fix Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues before a suit can be filed. It also allows all small businesses to correct basic issues like signage and warning strips without penalty.

Last year, Senator Roth introduced SB 251 which was essentially the same legislation except it also included tax credits to assist small business owners with the costs of retrofitting their place of business to be compliant with the ADA. Governor Brown vetoed SB 251 due to these tax credits, arguing that tax credits should be part of the budget negotiation process.

Following this setback, Senator Roth reintroduced legislation in the form of SB 269 sans the tax credits, which gained bipartisan support and ultimately the Governor’s signature.

California’s legal climate remains one of the highest costs of doing business in this state, and SB 269 moves the needle in the right direction. While this bill does not completely fix California’s hostile legal climate, hopefully it helps to move us away from being annually ranked the #1 Judicial Hellhole in the nation by the American Tort Reform Association.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was intended to increase compliance and access, not become a source of income for trial lawyers. SB 269 helps prevent unnecessary lawsuits which frequently serve only as a cash cow for attorneys rather than a means to make business more accessible for all.

SB 269 is listed on our The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly bill list as a “Good” bill for these reasons, along with other key legislative priorities for NFIB. Again, we thank Governor Brown, Senator Roth, and the bipartisan support for this bill and hope it moves us toward a more positive legal climate for small businesses in California.

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