Justice Department and State of Idaho Reach Settlement Over Accessibility of Statehouse
U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the State of Idaho’s Capitol Commission and the State of Idaho’s Attorney General’s Office have reached a settlement to resolve allegations that the Statehouse, as remodeled, does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This matter arose out of a complaint concerning the accessibility of the Idaho State Capitol’s facilities, services, programs, and activities under Title II of the ADA. Pursuant to Title II, no qualified individual with a disability shall be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such public entity on the basis of disability. In this case, the original complaint alleged that, among other non-compliant features, there were no accessible spaces for individuals in wheelchairs to view legislative sessions despite the more than 100 spectator seats in each house. The State of Idaho Attorney General’s Office, and the State of Idaho’s Capitol Commission worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to resolve the accessibility complaints and to bring the Statehouse into compliance with Title II.
Under the terms of the agreement, the State of Idaho will ensure that no qualified individual with a disability will be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of the Capitol’s services, programs, or activities. The state will, among other things, modify the east and west entrances to the Statehouse so that they are accessible to individuals with disabilities, add accessible seating in the legislative viewing areas, bring accessible ramps and paths of travel into compliance with the ADA, and improve signs and modify door handles to comply with accessibility requirements. The project will be spread out over three years at a cost of approximately $400,000.
“We are pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with the state to resolve this matter without the need for contested litigation and with the common goal of improving accessibility,” said Olson. “I want to thank our partners in the State of Idaho Attorney General’s Office and in the disability advocacy community for working with us to reach this successful resolution and to make Idaho’s most important public facility, its Statehouse, more accessible. I also want to thank Department of Justice architect Thomas Fodor for his tireless hours on this project. This settlement reflects a national effort by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide improved access to public facilities and programs.”
“This is an important improvement for all Idahoans and I appreciate the cooperation and commitment the United States Attorney has shown in solving the access issues at the Statehouse,” Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “Now, the state can make certain Idaho’s Capitol, as the people's house, is open and accessible to anyone interested in taking part in state government, witnessing the democratic process or touring this historic building.”
Additional information about the ADA can be found on Idaho United States Attorney’s website at http://www.justice.gov/usao-id/civil-rights-enforcement and the Justice Department website: www.ada.com.