Seyfarth Synopsis: DOJ announced today an extension to October 7, 2016 for the public to submit comments on the SANPRM for state and local government websites.

In May of this year the Department of Justice surprised us by issuing a Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM), rather than – as all expected – actually issuing a proposed regulation for state and local government websites under Title II of the ADA. In the SANPRM the DOJ seeks public input on well over 100 of tentative positions that it may take in a proposed regulation, including input on the costs and benefits of such a proposed rule. The SANPRM imposed an August 8, 2016 deadline for submission of public comments. Today, the DOJ extended the comment period by 60 days to October 7, 2016 after receiving three comments requesting extensions. DOJ cited the effect these Title II regulations will have on the Title III web accessibility regulations as a reason for this extension: “[a] Title II Web accessibility rule is likely to facilitate the creation of an infrastructure for web accessibility that will be very important in the Department’s preparation of the Title III Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Web site accessibility of public accommodations.” DOJ also noted that “further delays in this Title II rulemaking will, therefore, have the effect of hindering Title III Web rulemaking’s timeline as well” – further answering questions we’ve heard from many as to how interdependent these two regulatory processes really are.

This highlights the importance of organizations representing various sectors that own or operate “public accommodations” to weigh in on these important issues – which the DOJ has expressly stated will directly impact it future proposed rule for public accommodations websites, currently slated for 2018. If your industry association has not drafted comments, this extension provides you the opportunity – there is still time.

For an overview of the key issues that warrant comment by public accommodations now, please see our prior post.