HB 333

Copy of HB 333

Rep. MICHAEL Stinziano Pushing Bill That Harms Individuals with Disabilities

from Disability Rights Ohio, sbrannan@disabilityrightsohio.org,    614-466-7264 ext. 101

Members of the disability community offerred strong opposition testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on HB 333, a bill sponsored by Representative Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) on Wednesday, January 22 at  the Ohio Statehouse, Columbus. For more information from Rep. Stinziano – http://www.ohiohouse.gov/michael-stinziano

HB  333 would discourage and delay compliance with Ohio’s laws banning
discrimination against individuals with disabilities, particularly related to
access to facilities and related services. The bill lets businesses, developers,
realtors, landlords and government officials “off the hook” for not complying
with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rather than encouraging
compliance, this bill allows businesses at least five months to deny those with
disabilities their rights.

Fred Gittes, President of Protecting Ohio’s Employees, said, “A blind tenant in an
apartment complex with a no-pet policy may have to live without his or her
service dog for at least five months if HB 333 becomes law. Or a deaf person,
who needs sign language in an emergency room, may have to file a notice
provision with the hospital and wait a minimum five months before getting the
needed service.” Gittes added, “This legislation is a step backwards for the
members of our community with disabilities.”

Michael Kirkman, Executive Director of Disability Rights Ohio, stated, “The definition of accessibility laws in HB 333 is so broad that it will, by definition, cover the ADA.  However, state law cannot supersede federal law, so there will be
confusion for businesses and the disability community about whether the notice
provision is required.” Kirkman added that even the Legislative Service
Commission analysis states that if the bill applies to federal accessibility
laws, it may be unconstitutional. The federal ADA does not require notice to
anyone as a prerequisite to litigation.

Kay Grier, Executive Director, Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council, said,
“Perhaps the most disturbing provision in HB 333 is the section that allows a
retaliatory suit against an individual with a disability. The bill allows the
owner, agent, or other responsible party of a property to sue an individual and
their attorney for filing an accessibility action without providing the notice
required by this bill. This is true even if the responsible party knowingly
broke the law. It will have a chilling effect on the enforcement of civil rights
laws in Ohio.”

HB  333 is flawed and misguided legislation that will cause confusion in the
business community and harm the disability community.