The bill requires state and local public bodies (public bodies), including the general assembly, and political parties to comply with certain accessibility requirements within specified periods.
Access to ballot by candidates. The bill requires the general assembly, the secretary of state, and each political party to ensure that the caucus process or any future alternative process by which candidates may access the ballot that is accessible to persons with disabilities remains an option in the state. The bill specifies that the petition process is not a means of ballot access that is accessible to persons with disabilities. In addition, the bill requires that within 6 months of the effective date of the bill, any person, upon request, must be able to participate in a precinct caucus or a party assembly with the use of a video conferencing platform that is accessible to persons with disabilities unless the precinct caucus or party assembly is held in a geographic location that lacks broadband internet service. Auxiliary aids and services for members of the general assembly. The house of representatives and the senate are required to provide auxiliary aids and services to any member of the general assembly upon request of the member for use by the member while the member is in the capitol building or any other building in the capitol complex where legislative business regularly occurs. Video conferencing platforms in court proceedings. Within 5 years of the effective date of the bill, all courts in the state are required to allow a person to appear in court by the use of a video conferencing platform upon request of the person who is required to appear in court; except that the court may make a finding of fact that the person's physical presence in the courtroom is required. The supreme court is required to prescribe rules of procedure to implement the use of a video conferencing platform. The bill includes an exemption for courts that are in a geographic location that lacks broadband internet service. Accessibility of meetings of public bodies. Each public body is required to ensure that the following accessibility requirements are implemented:
- Within 6 months of the effective date of the bill, any public meeting at which public business is discussed, formal action may be taken, or recommendations to the governing body of the public body may be discussed (meeting) held by a public body is required to be accessible in real time by live streaming video or audio that is recorded and accessible to persons with disabilities;
- A public body is required to post on its website, within specified periods, any documents that will be distributed during a meeting;
- Within 6 months of the effective date of the bill, for any meeting of a public body during which public testimony will be heard, the public body is required to allow any person to participate in the meeting and offer public testimony by using a video conferencing platform unless the meeting occurs in a geographic location that lacks broadband internet service;
- A public body may require that a request for auxiliary aids or services to attend a meeting of the public body with the use of the video conferencing platform be made up to 7 days before the date of the meeting;
- A public body is required to provide any auxiliary aids or services requested in time for the meeting for which they were requested without an explanation of the need for the auxiliary aids and services. A public body is required to postpone a meeting if it is unable to provide the requested auxiliary aids or services in time for the meeting and is required to document the reason for the additional time required.
State capitol building accessibility requirements. Within 4 years of the effective date of the bill, the legislative department, acting through the executive committee of the legislative council, is required to ensure that an audio and way-finding program that allows a person who is blind or visually impaired to independently navigate the state capitol building is implemented and available to any person who works in or visits the capitol building.
The failure of any political party or public body to comply with the applicable requirements of the bill constitutes discrimination on the basis of disability. Any person who is subjected to a violation is entitled to seek relief as currently provided in law.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)