[nfbmi-talk] the free press article

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Tue Feb 28 07:41:27 CST 2012

Snyder plan to cut agency for blind people stirs anger | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

Paul Egan



Paul Egan


Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau



LANSING -- Advocates for blind people are unhappy with a shake-up in services for disabled people announced last week by Gov. Rick Snyder, including elimination

of the Michigan Commission for the Blind.


They say Snyder ordered the changes without consulting or giving a warning to those who will be most affected.


Snyder's executive order would move most vocational rehabilitation services for disabled people to the Department of Human Services from the Department

of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.


A small business program overseen by the Commission for the Blind -- under which blind people receive contracts to operate stores and provide vending machines

in state buildings and at highway rest areas -- is to be moved to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.


In place of the commission, which has a full-time director whose position is to be eliminated, Snyder ordered the creation of an advisory board for services

to blind and visually impaired people.


"We don't want any stinking advisory board," said Fred Wurtzel, past president of the Michigan Federation of the Blind.


The state gets better results and more bang for the buck by having "a separate dedicated staff that specializes only in working with blind people," Wurtzel

said, adding that he was not speaking on behalf of the federation.


Joe Harcz, a member of both the federation and American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, said federal law requires states to hold public hearings

before making significant changes in their vocational training plans. But that didn't happen, he said.


Mario Morrow, a spokesman for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, said public hearings will be held before the order takes effect.


Harcz also questioned how Snyder can repeal an act of the Legislature that created the Commission for the Blind.


But Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the order doesn't eliminate any powers the legislation created, but only transfers them.


The Michigan Constitution says executive orders with the power of law take effect in 60 days unless resolutions rejecting them are passed by both chambers

of the Legislature.


Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660

orpegan at freepress.com

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