Pool accessibility has become a hot topic in Washington, D.C.
A second congressional bill addressing the Americans with
Disabilities Act has been introduced.
On March 26, Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) introduced H.R.
4256, calling for a one-year extension of the ADA deadline for
public pools. If passed, the bill also would allow portable lifts
and sharing of lifts between vessels. It would prohibit lawsuits
against pool and spa facilities for ADA violations alleged to occur
between March 15, 2012, and one year after enactment of the
“Congressman Mulvaney believes portable lifts and shared
lifts are the best solution...,” said Mulvaney spokesperson
Danielle McAdaragh. “It allows for lift accessibility and
safety, as well as being more economically
The bill has 26 original co-sponsors. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is among
the most recognized, and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) is the only
In early March, Mulvaney joined 67 members of Congress in a letter
to the U.S. Department of Justice, which enforces the ADA, decrying
its decision not to allow portable lifts or sharing. In addition,
he took issue with the timing of the decision, which came 45 days
before the deadline. “In that short time, approximately
309,000 pools or spas would need their own individual lifts,”
McAdaragh said. The letter asked the DOJ to, at the very least,
extend the deadline by six months.
“Once Congressman Mulvaney saw the strain placed on
small-business owners who were rushed to [comply], and the concern
for the safety of those using pool lifts, he decided to introduce
[the bill],” McAdaragh said.
Though the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals is
analyzing the language, its director of government affairs,
Jennifer Hatfield, expressed support for the portable-lift
allowance. “We believe that’s what the initial 2010
standards allowed for,” she said.
H.R. 4256 isn’t alone. On March 12, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
introduced S. 2186, which would prohibit the federal government
from enforcing the ADA standards on public pools and spas.
On March 15, the original compliance deadline, the DOJ granted a
60-day extension with a six-month reprieve being considered.
The issue has received coverage in the mainstream press, with
outlets such as CNN and the South Florida Sun Sentinel discussing
the pool requirements.
All this attention follows lobbying efforts by organizations from
the pool, aquatics and hospitality industries. A key player has
been the American Hotel & Lodging Association. It routinely conducts
legislative “fly-ins,” whereby its members travel to
Capitol Hill to meet with congressional representatives and
senators. This year, approximately 250 AH&LA members met with
about 300 legislators, with the ADA issue among its
Of the two bills, the second has been the most positively received.
“It allows us to meet the requirements and needs of [people]
with disabilities, but in a reasonable way,” said Kevin
Maher, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the
American Hotel & Lodging Association. “This legislation
supports what we’ve been asking for all along.”
Still, given a truncated legislative season to accommodate this
year’s campaigning, not to mention a glut of bills working
their way through Congress, experts acknowledge it will be an
Though APSP and the AH&LA have not taken a position on the
DeMint bill, they have expressed appreciation, saying it may have
helped spur the latest activity.