[Nfbc-info] Fw: A message from Terry Smith re: HR 7

Mary Willows mwillows at sbcglobal.net
Mon Feb 20 00:03:25 UTC 2012

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Freeh, Jessica 
To: Alpidio Rolon ; Amy Buresh ; Art Schreiber ; Beth Rival ; Bill Packee ; Bob Kresmer ; Carl Jacobsen ; Cassandra McNabb ; Cathy Jackson ; Charlene Smyth ; Christine G. Hall ; Dan Hicks ; Daniel Burke ; Donna Wood ; Duane Iverson ; Elsie Dickerson ; Frank Lee ; Franklin Shiner ; Fred Schroeder ; Garrick Scott ; Gary Ray ; Gary Wunder ; Grace Pires ; J.W. Smith ; James Antonacci ; Jeannie Massay ; Jennifer Dunnam ; Joe Ruffalo ; John Batron ; John Fritz ; Joy Harris ; Joyce Scanlan ; Ken Rollman ; Kim Williams ; Kimberly Flores ; Larry Posont ; Lynn Majewski ; Mary Willows ; Melissa Riccobono ; Michael Barber ; Michael Freeman ; Mika Pyyhkala ; Nani Fife ; Pam Allen ; Parnell Diggs ; Patti Chang ; Patty Estes ; Rena Smith ; Ron Brown ; Gardner, Ron ; Sam Gleese ; Scott LaBarre ; Shawn Callaway ; Terry Sheeler 
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 11:22 AM
Subject: A message from Terry Smith re: HR 7


I wanted to follow up with everyone on the efforts to amend HR 7 to allow commercialization of the interstate rest areas and to thank all of those who responded so quickly to our call to action.  You were phenomenal.  Congressman LaTourette has definitely heard loud and clear that his amendment would be devastating to blind entrepreneurs and that the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association of Blind Merchants intended on protecting those hard working blind individuals who now earn their living with vending machines at the interstate rest areas.  

When we first heard of the amendment, the NFB issued a press release.  In it, Dr. Marc Maurer called for the amendment to be withdrawn.  This press release was sent to every member of Congress and some media outlets.  The release resulted in many calls to our national office from Congressional offices.  We sent out an alert to our many fine blind entrepreneurs and to key state affiliates.  You came through with flying colors as literally hundreds of calls were made to Congressional offices.  One co-sponsor withdrew his support for the bill.  Other Congressional offices pledged their support to oppose the amendment.  

As it currently stands, we are cautiously optimistic the amendment will not pass as originally proposed.  Congressman LaTourette's  office is still working to try to develop language to ensure that blind entrepreneurs are not adversely affected.  We understand now that a vote by the full House on HR 7 has been delayed and will now not go to the floor for a vote before the week of February 27th.  This will allow them time to reconsider the amendment and/or develop language that eases our concerns.  

Thanks to all of you and the efforts of John Pare, Lauren McLarney, Chris Danielsen, Nicky Gacos, Kevan Worley, and others at NFB's national office including Dr. Maurer's personal involvement, we are optimistic that we can defeat this amendment.  However, if it passes, it will go to conference with the Senate which has already passed the bill without any commercialization language.  The Senate has historically opposed commercialization efforts so we will get another chance to defeat the effort at that point.  We will need your efforts again if that occurs.  

One other point needs to be made.  As the process unfolded this week, there was some talk about allowing commercialization but giving a priority to blind entrepreneurs.  On the surface, that is tempting but everything that glitters isn't always gold.  If commercialization passed with a priority for the blind, many state licensing agencies would not be in position to develop the type of partnership arrangements that would be required.  No state has the resources to build a multimillion dollar travel center that provides a wide range of services to the traveling public including food, gas, etc.  It would require the states to team with a private entity who could put forth the capital outlay.  If the SLA passed on the opportunity, as I'm sure many would, the state departments of transportation would then be free to invite other third parties into the rest areas thus making the vending opportunities currently enjoyed by blind entrepreneurs virtually meaningless.  Although the NFB and  NABM are willing to look at a thoroughly thought out plan that would create opportunities for blind entrepreneurs, we are not willing to rush into agreeing to language in an amendment that could have severe consequences.  We are more than willing to sit down with proponents of commercialization during the coming year to consider options.  But for now, we say "No" to commercialization.  

Let me say that I am proud of all of you who sprang into action.  NABM and the NFB have once again demonstrated that when we mobilize NFB members and blind vendors across the country, the voice of the blind will be heard.  Thanks to all of you.  

Terry C. Smith
Business Opportunity Specialist 



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