Capitol Alert

Tired of ‘shakedown lawsuits,’ business groups want changes to law protecting disabled

A 20th-anniversary celebration for the the Americans With Disabilities Act at the California Capitol on July 26, 2010.
A 20th-anniversary celebration for the the Americans With Disabilities Act at the California Capitol on July 26, 2010. The Sacramento Bee file

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Since the passage of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, business owners have frequently objected that they are subjected to frivolous lawsuits by attorneys who take advantage of the law to file hundreds of complaints over minor violations and line their pockets with the settlements.

California legislators have introduced many bills over the years to modify how the law is applied here, but some still say not enough has been done to stop the abuse. Assemblymen Adam Gray, D-Merced, and Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, will join with business owners, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and the Civil Justice Association of California to promote legislation cracking down on these “shakedown lawsuits,” 10 a.m. on the east side of the Capitol.

Gray’s AB 913 would put limits on filings by “extremely high-frequency” litigants, while Fong’s AB 1429 and AB 1430 target complaints over payroll violations, another area where businesses say they are often sued for technical issues. His measures propose a cap on penalties and an administrative review to first determine whether there is a “reasonable basis” for a lawsuit to move forward.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon are on the move trying to line up support for an expected Thursday vote on the massive transportation funding deal they announced last week. After previously visiting Concord to persuade several moderate East Bay lawmakers, they will join more than a dozen local officials in Riverside at noon to make their case to the Inland Empire. The message is likely directed at Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, who won an upset victory over a Republican incumbent in a swing district last fall and is surely busy working through the political calculations of voting for a tax increase so early in her legislative tenure. With two-thirds of both houses needed to approve the deal, every vote is critical for supporters, who have already been running radio and television ads in Cervantes’ district and those of seven other lawmakers.

WORTH REPEATING: I encourage you to look into that question to avoid a veto on this, your first bill. – Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, hazing Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, by asking him – in Latin – why she should support his bill. He didn't answer

VIDEO OF THE DAY: “I have no future,” Jerry Brown admits.

MUST READ: Should 11-year-olds be sent to juvie?

SAFETY DANCE: What do California’s gubernatorial candidates think about criminal justice issues? Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will participate in a discussion, 8 a.m. at the Double Tree Hotel in Sacramento, hosted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. The group – a project of Californians for Safety and Justice, the organization behind prison reduction initiatives like Proposition 47 – is holding its annual “Survivors Speak” conference encouraging state officials to rethink justice in terms of rehabilitation rather than incarceration. The candidate dialogue will be followed by a march to the Capitol from Cesar Chavez Plaza at 10:30 a.m and a rally on the west steps at 11 a.m.

INDEPENDENT WOMEN: Two years ago, California expanded equal-pay protections to close the enduring gap between what men and women earn – leading even the state Senate to make changes to its payroll to come into compliance. How are other employers doing with the new law? The California Pay Equity Task Force will issue a report, including tools for business and employees to pursue more equal pay, 10 a.m. in Room 100 of the Legislative Office Building on N Street. The law was a major goal of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, which plans to unveil its priorities for the 2017 session, including more funding for subsidized child care, 11 a.m. in Room 317 at the Capitol. That will be followed by a rally, 11:45 a.m. in Capitol Park near the Rose Garden, for the policy agenda of A Stronger California, an advocacy organization that has previously worked with the caucus on the pay equity law and other bills.

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: Part of Republicans’ ongoing effort to rebrand in California is a legislative package this session focused on alleviating poverty and rebuilding the middle class, including several bills to boost funding for workforce training and career technical education. GOP Assembly members Heath Flora of Ripon, Jordan Cunningham of Templeton and Marie Waldron of Escondido will tour the manufacturing and design program at Sacramento’s John F. Kennedy High School at noon to promote the measures: AB 316, AB 445 and AB 579. They will be joined by two of their Democratic co-authors, Assemblymen Patrick O’Donnell of Long Beach and Rudy Salas of Bakersfield.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff