[NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation

Roger Crome r_crome1 at msn.com
Thu May 24 13:35:38 UTC 2018

You are correct in that there was a lack of call to action on this issue.  As the Chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee, I will shoulder the blame for that one.  However, allow me to explain.  This was a tactical move that was a mistake.  This session has been a whirlwind of complex issues that appeared to be crushing the issues like this one out.We were communicating with the Council on this issue.  Both we and the Council made it clear to the legislators that we opposed this legislation.  In March, the House added an amendment by Representative Unsucker  This amendment added the provision that the Blind Pension recipients would be eligible for ABLE accounts.  The Council removed their opposition because this addressed one of their priorities.  When the bill went to the Senate, the amendment was removed that would add more steps to ultimate passage.  

The Governor has made public comment about this issue as, what I believe, a smoke and mirrors approach to change focus from the fire storm he has been facing.  The best way to try to calm the attack against you is to create a common enemy.  In this case, the enemy was Blind Pension recipients.   Throughout the session,the legislators I spoke with seemed sold on this bill to a degree but did not act like this was a high priority.  So, in the last week,when HB 2171 was thrown onto the informal calendar on the day before the last day in session, I thought we were ok.  Usually, this is what happens to bills that will not go any further.  Typically, the informal calendar is forgotten unless attention is brought to it.  So, I thought that by bringing attention to it,we would cause it to pass.  Ultimately, that is what happened anyway.

On one hand, I think that this was going to happen no matter what we did.  On the other hand,I question what we could have done to stop the train.  Ultimately, as Chair of the Committee, I should have taken different approaches, and for those mistakes, I am truly sorry to everyone.

Fred, I’m glad to hear you say that we need to stop talking and do more.  So, can I count on you for next year’s Jefferson City seminar?  One more person would be that much less walking for those of us who spent days walking the halls of the capitol building.

I am very proud of and grateful for the members of the Governmental Affairs Committee.  They are a hard working set of members dedicated to speaking for the blind of Missouri.  Before saying that we aren’t doing enough, you need to walk in their shoes..  There is truly a lot going on.  It is time to get involved and stop depending on a list serve to show what is happening. List serves are for talking.  If you want action, get involved.  You are responsible for the action you take, and if you take no action,it is fruitless to blame others for not doing enough.
Roger Crome  

Sent from my iPhone

> On May 23, 2018, at 9:11 PM, Fred Olver via NFBMO <nfbmo at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Jean, I certainly applaud the effort‘s of those who were involved in making necessary changes to this bill. However, I do not recall in the last three months, seeing any call to action or request for individuals to go to Jefferson City to demonstrate against the passage of this legislation. In light of the fact that this legislation is so crucial to those of us who are blind, and not only those of us in the NFB, but also those who are involved in the ACB, it seems to me that efforts could have been made to work more closely with the Missouri Council of the blind in preventing passage of legislation which was counter to the needs and requirements of those of us who are blind. I say these things, because in the last 20 years or so it seems that the NFB national organization has become somewhat toothless in its efforts to speak on behalf of those of us who are blind. Yes there have been small steps made, however I do not perceive that this state organization as an example has acted in a manner which is pro active with regard to the needs of blind people overall. It seems that we as a result of what has occurred in the past have become somewhat lazy in our efforts to speak on behalf of people who are blind. This legislation is a good example especially Melissa is answer, it seems to me that as of February 12 or 13th, somebody or someone had decided that efforts to facilitate the changing of this bill we’re not in the best interest of people who are blind because the decision had already been made to pass legislation as is. Another example is that when I attended the last NFB meeting, some years ago, the president didn’t even see fit to bringAnd agenda to the meeting. Also, I became tired of being talked at at NFB meetings this organization needs to turn around this organization needs to get off his butt and educate people this bill is a prime example of the lack of education which exists in the state of Missouri we should have Cole last with the ACB and done everything in our power to facilitate necessary changes to this bill at the very least it seems to be very discriminatory against sided spouses and people who are blind in the state of Missour we do an awful lot of talking on this list but it seems to me that we don’t do enough doing. Fred Olver
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On May 23, 2018, at 7:35 PM, Gene Coulter via NFBMO <nfbmo at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> We did not know this bill would be submitted before it was as it was
>> proposed by DSS. We were engaged as soon as it was filed. Thanks to the
>> efforts of blind consumers there were several changes made to this bill
>> before it was passed including raising the poverty limit for the sighted
>> spouse to 500% from 300%. We talked to each and every legislator and
>> were part of negotiations to try and amend it. 
>> I believe we handled this as proactively as we could as one cannot
>> anticipate a bill such as this coming out of left field.
>> All we can do now that the bill will surely be signed by the governor is
>> make sure folks are aware of the new rules and monitor DSS with regard
>> to it's provisions particularly the  calculation provisions.
>> What we can do in the future, is what we did this time, keep a close eye
>> on the bills filed  and react as quickly as is possible and if we hear
>> wind of a potential bill we should contact those responsible to find out
>> what the bill will do. This includes everyone reading this post.
>> Gene
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: NFBMO <nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Fred Olver via NFBMO
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 2:40 PM
>> To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
>> Cc: Fred Olver <fredolver at gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation
>> Although I am a little reluctant to comment, it seems to me that we are
>> closing the barn door after the horse has already left so to speak. It
>> seems to me that some questions that need to be asked our one what input
>> did this organization have when it comes to the development and or
>> response to this bill, two, what effort was made to expose legislate
>> tors to the faults with this bill and three what can we do now that the
>> bill has already passed and a fourth question might be what can we do
>> the next time a situation like this or similar comes up with regard to
>> the state legislate tors. Fred Olver
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>> On May 23, 2018, at 2:22 PM, Coccovizzo,Linda A via NFBMO
>>> <nfbmo at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>> It's frustrating, because the rules for blind pension aren't always
>> easy to find, and they are somewhat vague. I think part of the idea
>> behind creating this bill was to take some of that vagueness out of the
>> rules. However, for me, it really created more questions than answers. I
>> read the final bill, but as far as I know, there really isn't anything
>> that describes a household when it comes to the poverty level. Someone
>> correct me if I am wrong, but the wording seems to give FSD the ability
>> to choose whether they want to count all of the members of the family,
>> or just the spouse and the recipient. Also, there is that part that
>> leaves things open for them to interpret the numbers as they wish, with
>> no reprocussions, because the bill says they can. And then, is it
>> $20,000, or $30,000 that is allowed for property. It should be one or
>> the other, but the way it reads, decisions can be made on an individual
>> basis, and that doesn't make sense to me. It was FSD who took the
>> fraudulent applications and approved them. It is also FSD who brought
>> this bill to the house. It isn't our fault that they allowed people with
>> drivers licenses to slip through the cracks, or those who have more
>> vision than the rules allow. It also wasn't our fault that the funds
>> were mishandled so many years ago.
>>> When I met with my legislators, I made sure to mention the things
>> about the bill that I agreed with. Of course people who are blind enough
>> to be eligible to receive blind pension shouldn't have drivers licenses,
>> and if they receive the blind pension, they have definitely been
>> considered blind enough not to be able to drive. That should be obvious
>> enough not to have to put it into a bill, but apparently it wasn't. I
>> like the fact that recipients can have ABLE accounts up to $100,000.
>> That puts Missouri's blind up to speed with disabled Missourians who
>> receive benefits. I find it interesting that the ABLE accounts for blind
>> pension recipients was at one time a separate billfor 2018, and was then
>> rolled into this bill. Kind of a double-edge. The increase in property
>> allowance is good, but again, I'm unsure whether $20,000 or 30,000 is
>> allowed.
>>> Do recipients assume it's $30,000, and then find out they were over
>> the limit when it's too late?
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: NFBMO <nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Gene Coulter via 
>>> Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 1:28 PM
>>> To: 'NFB of Missouri Mailing List' <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
>>> Cc: GeneCoulter at Charter.net
>>> Subject: Re: [NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation
>>> Increases, if they happen, occur annually in July with letters being
>> sent out in mid-June.  These letters should be kept , at least, until
>> the next letter adjusting  your benefit amount is received so that you
>> have proof of income for loan applications or other purposes. 
>>> To Brian's prior query  if you submit a driver's license as proof of
>> identity under the new law they will reject or close your case.
>>> Evidently FSD can look up driver's license records to determine
>> whether you have a non-driver's license or driver's license or both if
>> they suspect fraud. 
>>> Gene
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: NFBMO <nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Julie McGinnity 
>>> via NFBMO
>>> Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 12:54 AM
>>> To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
>>> Cc: Julie McGinnity <kaybaycar at gmail.com>
>>> Subject: Re: [NFBMO] Blind Pension Legislation
>>> How often do they change the amount of blind pension?
>>> I agree with Randy that the problem is we have laws no one takes the
>> time to enforce.  It's the same with the service animal laws we have put
>> in place.  Businesses don't know their rights, so we have fake service
>> animals all over the place.  But yeah, we were talking about blind
>> pension...  Even before we practice our little elevator speeches, we
>> need to figure out what we would like to say.
>>> I had to educate myself quickly about blind pension and fear I still
>> don't know everything.  It seems to me that we should all be on the same
>> page regarding what we want to protect and what we can let go.  I think
>> the driver's license rule is a little overkill, but their sighted spouse
>> requirements seem to, like Gary said, prevent integration or promulgate
>> the idea that our sighted spouses (but not our blind ones) can take care
>> of us.  What's clear to me is that blind/disabled people don't write
>> these laws or design the systems that many of us live on.  There's
>> something wrong with that.  Ok, so we don't hold the purse strings as it
>> were, but we are citizens who should not be punished for being disabled.
>>> SSI discourages people from saving, unless you want to save for
>> something very specific.  And now we're talking marriage and the
>> disadvantages to marrying as blind or blind and sighted couples...  It
>> seems to me that we should be discussing these things more often and
>> coming up with those elevator speeches Gary mentioned.  We can't change
>> these things unless we have a collective voice.
>>> Julie
>>> <div id="DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2"><br /> <table
>>> style="border-top: 1px solid #D3D4DE;">
>>>  <tr>
>>>      <td style="width: 55px; padding-top: 13px;"><a 
>>> href="https://www.avast.com/sig-email?utm_medium=email&utm_source=link
>>> &u tm_campaign=sig-email&utm_content=webmail&utm_term=icon"
>>> target="_blank"><img
>>> src="https://ipmcdn.avast.com/images/icons/icon-envelope-tick-round-or
>>> an
>>> ge-animated-no-repeat-v1.gif"
>>> alt="" width="46" height="29" style="width: 46px; height: 29px;"
>>> /></a></td>
>>>      <td style="width: 470px; padding-top: 12px; color:
>>> #41424e;
>>> font-size: 13px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
>>> line-height: 18px;">Virus-free. <a
>>> href="https://www.avast.com/sig-email?utm_medium=email&utm_source=link
>>> &u tm_campaign=sig-email&utm_content=webmail&utm_term=link"
>>> target="_blank" style="color: #4453ea;">www.avast.com</a>
>>>      </td>
>>>  </tr>
>>> </table><a href="#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2" width="1"
>>> height="1"></a></div>
>>>> On 5/22/18, Gary Wunder via NFBMO <nfbmo at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>>> I think there are significant philosophical implications we should 
>>>> think about with regard to the blind pension and especially the 
>>>> changes. If you are a blind person who cannot work, your situation is
>>>> made even more desperate in your family by the fact that to that 
>>>> family unit you are a taker rather than a giver. I believe in 
>>>> marriage, and I think most Missourians do as well. But the fact of 
>>>> the
>>>> matter is that it has been clearly demonstrated with seniors and
>>>> others: if you put me at an economic hardship, I will stay married in
>>>> the eyes of God, but I may seriously consider the legal arrangement 
>>>> that says I'm married. Ask recipients of SSI.
>>>> Ask recipients of pensions that say they are entitled until they
>>> remarry.
>>>> Under the blind pension law, as it exists now and as it exists when 
>>>> the governor signs it, sighted people are placed at a economic 
>>>> disadvantage when marrying blind people. Blind people are placed at 
>>>> risk by marrying sighted people. This is not the kind of integration 
>>>> I
>>>> want. I'm glad that the earnings of blind people remain exempt, but I
>>>> can't say there is any fairness in this, and as for the dignity of 
>>>> blind people, I think it is considered not at all in the law and in 
>>>> this legislation.
>>>> I think that we better be preparing arguments about keeping the 
>>>> medical benefits that blind people receive. That issue appears to 
>>>> have
>>>> gone away, but it was not terribly unpopular when it was proposed. We
>>>> need to work on language that is persuasive and concise. Very often 
>>>> when people speak of spin, they do so in a negative context, but spin
>>>> can be very effective and it has a purpose. When you deal with busy 
>>>> people, you better be able to state your issue clearly and concisely.
>>>> They don't have all day to listen to your concerns. The spin must be 
>>>> honest, but we should figure out how to positively get that message 
>>>> out in a form that is easily repeatable, easily understood, and 
>>>> completely verifiable. Our credibility is everything. If we can't 
>>>> figure out ways to communicate our message in an elevator speech, we 
>>>> are headed for the basement.
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>>>> c
>>>> om
>>> --
>>> Julie A. McGinnity
>>> President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division,
>> Second Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Missouri "For
>> we walk by faith, not by sight"
>>> 2 Cor. 7
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