Stay keeps lawyers out of the pool for 60 days

ADA retro­fit edict goes off deep end

The Washington Times Daily - - From Page One - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Jus­tice Depart­ment on Thurs­day is­sued a 60-day stay for hun­dreds of thou­sands of public pools that had been re­quired to in­stall ramps and wheel­chair lifts by to­day or else face law­suits over vi­o­lat­ing dis­abil­ity laws.

Pres­i­dent Obama in 2010 dra­mat­i­cally ex­panded the rules for ac­cess un­der the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act, and the new reg­u­la­tions mean that ev­ery pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble pool — from mu­nic­i­pal fa­cil­i­ties to ho­tels — must have two “ac­ces­si­ble means of en­try,” at least one of which must be a ramp or wheel­chair lift. Spas must also have ei­ther a lift or a trans­fer sys­tem to help the dis­abled en­ter them, un­der the new rules.

Un­der the law, non­com­pli­ant fa­cil­i­ties can be sued — and some law­mak­ers feared a bo­nanza for lawyers ea­ger to cap­i­tal­ize.

The im­pend­ing sit­u­a­tion was la­beled “pool-mageddon” by op­po­nents, who said there aren’t even enough lifts avail­able in the U.S. to make ev­ery pool ac­ces­si­ble.

Sens. Jim Demint and Lind­sey Gra­ham, both South Carolina Repub­li­cans, were try­ing to speed a bill through the Se­nate on Thurs­day to lift the reg­u­la­tions, but it did not see ac­tion be­fore the cham­ber ad­journed. Law­mak­ers won’t be back un­til Mon­day.

Late Thurs­day, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion acted, grant­ing its 60day re­prieve and say­ing it will also float the idea of a full six-month ex­ten­sion to give pools “ad­di­tional time to ad­dress mis­un­der­stand­ings re­gard­ing com­pli­ance.”

Wes­ley Den­ton, a spokesman for Mr. Demint, crit­i­cized the reg­u­la­tion again Thurs­day night and claimed the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s move as vin­di­ca­tion.

“DOJ have been forced to ad­mit they made a big over­reach and are now re­treat­ing with a two-month de­lay on this un­nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tion,” he said, adding that his boss still plans to try to pass his bill.

“This isn’t over,” he said. “Se­na­tor Demint will con­tinue fight­ing to stop this big-gov­ern­ment man­date from be­ing im­ple­mented so public pools can have the flex­i­bil­ity to work di­rectly with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.”

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