Whoever said brevity is a virtue never tried to write an issue of The Blitz. This summer has been packed with activity and I apologize in advance for the length of this issue. But given the choice of keeping you informed or being brief, I will choose the former. Here we go.
NFB Sets World Record – Let’s start by talking about what was an amazing convention in Orlando in July. Over 2800 people attended the convention celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind. It was a celebration indeed as President Mark Riccobono presided over his first national convention. July 8, 2015, was historic as 2480 NFB members set a Guinness World Record with the largest umbrella mosaic ever. From up above, 2480 umbrellas spelled out “Live the life you want”. A drone flying above provided some spectacular photos. It was an amazing sight and symbolic of what the NFB wants and expects for each blind person in this country. Blind entrepreneurs were at the convention in big numbers. In fact, over 120 attended the Merchants Division meeting on July 7th. No, Guinness did not certify that a world record but it was clearly the largest turnout of blind entrepreneurs at any consumer organization national convention ever. President Nicky Gacos presented a powerful agenda and the large turnout only confirms the belief that the Randolph-Sheppard community has in the NFBEI and the direction of NABM.
DoD Completes Work on Regulations: What’s Next? -–As you no doubt know, Congress included language in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act directing the Department of Defense to promulgate rules to implement the infamous 2007 Joint Policy Statement. NABM and the NFBEI take the position that RSA is the federal agency that by law should be promulgating the rules and the NFB passed a resolution to this effect at its July convention. Nonetheless, neither DoD nor RSA appear to be inclined to say no to Congress. The Joint Policy Statement was never implemented by RSA primarily because parts of it were in conflict with the Randolph-Sheppard Act. DoD has completed its work and the DFAR Council has completed is review of the proposed rules. They will next be sent to OMB. It is our expectation that OBM will now send the proposed rules to other affected federal agencies which we can expect to at least include RSA, the AbilityOne Commission, and the Small Business Administration. We have been hard at work educating RSA about the issues and are confident that RSA will take a critical look at any proposed rules before giving its blessing. It is our hope that RSA, as the federal agency charged with the responsibility of interpreting the Randolph-Sheppard Act, will influence changes that are beneficial to blind entrepreneurs. The final outcome remains to be seen. The good news is that we feel relatively certain that some of the troublesome language in the original Joint Policy Statement will not be included in the rules being proposed by DoD. The battleground will center on what constitutes a cafeteria and when the R-S priority applies. The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register and we will all have an opportunity to comment. NABM and the NFBEI will most certainly be submitting comments. We will be sure to circulate that notice when it comes out. But the reality is our best chance of influencing the rules is before they are published. It has come to our attention that DoD is contemplating publishing interim rules to be used until the rules can be finalized. We are fighting to prevent that from happening unless they have first been signed off on by RSA. Stay tuned. There will definitely be more on this coming soon.
Meanwhile We Might as Well Arbitrate – While we wait for DoD to promulgate the new rules, if in fact they are successful in doing so, several states are involved with arbitration cases over the issue of whether or not the priority applies to dining facility attendance services. These arbitrations underscore the reason DoD wants to promulgate rules. It hopes new rules will make these arbitration cases moot. DoD has historically said the priority does not apply to dining facility attendant services and we can bet any rules they promulgate will reflect that position. We say it does and our position has been supported by prior arbitration panels and the courts. In the meantime, Georgia just completed an arbitration over this issue at Fort Stewart. The Florida SLA has a similar case that has been filed over the Tyndall Air Force Base. These cases are unique in that Randolph-Sheppard had neither of these contracts. They were simply bidding on the DFA contract. However, there are cases in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas where the SLA held the full food contract and the Army is attempting to break out the dining attendant portion of the contract. All three states have arbitration cases pending. Interestingly, Congress directed DoD to promulgate rules to resolve the dispute between Randolph-Sheppard and JWOD. Of the 5 cases noted here, only one involves a JWOD entity.
JWOD Program Mired in Fraud – That’s not the NFBEI talking. That’s CNN and apparently some federal investigators. You can read the story or view the story on Anderson Cooper’s show by visiting CNN’s website at http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/27/us/disabled-work-program-investigation/index.html . The purpose of bringing the matter up here is not to pile on. We have expressed concerns over the years about the JWOD Program and we were not necessarily surprised by the report. We believe that JWOD can benefit from some fundamental changes and greater oversight. With that, we are hopeful that changes can be made that benefit persons who are blind especially blind entrepreneurs. Our immediate interest is how this impacts DoD’s rulemaking process. We mentioned earlier that DoD is promulgating new rules related to troop dining. Presumably, those rules will generate additional business for JWOD. Will OMB want to take a closer look in light of the ongoing investigations? Will Congress rethink its desire to implement the Joint Policy Statement? That remains to be seen but we will be monitoring this closely.
Emerging Leaders Training Scheduled – Earlier this year, NABM President Nicky Gacos announced the creation of its Emerging Leaders Program. Candidates who were interested in being future leaders were asked to submit applications. There were more applications submitted than there are slots available and the caliber of the candidates was outstanding. The thirteen candidates selected will attend a two-day training program in New Orleans December 7-9, 2015. Then there will be a special training session held in conjunction with BLAST for those who complete the program. The NABM is excited about this program and is serious about developing tomorrow’s Randolph-Sheppard leaders. NABM is contemplating this being an annual training. If you are interested in participating in the 2016 training program, let us hear from you now.
Windy City BLAST Will Blow You Away – It is going to be an exciting time at BLAST next year. The premiere R-S training event in the country will be held at the Chicago Airport Loews Hotel May 17-20, 2016. It is a beautiful hotel and is near so many places people will want to visit. Mark your calendars now to attend. We can’t make any announcements yet but we have a verbal agreement to bring an exciting opening speaker and have some exciting things planned for Tuesday, which we usually call Pre-Conference Day. We will be able to share more details by the time the next issue of The Blitz comes out.
NFBEI/NCSAB D.C. Events Huge Success: In early June, the NFBEI and NCSAB teamed up to co-sponsor two major events in our nation’s capitol on back-to-back days. On June 2nd, there was a workshop on healthy vending. This is a very important topic with blind entrepreneurs today as evidenced by the fact over 100 blind entrepreneurs and SLA staff attended. The training was a very positive experience and was well received by all in attendance. It was without a doubt the most positive and constructive dialogue ever about the subject with blind entrepreneurs. On June 3rd, the first NFBEI/NCSAB D.C. Fly-In was held. We had over 50 blind entrepreneurs visit The Hill and meet with their Congressional representatives. Their mission was to tell their story, educate members about this fantastic program, and seek assistance to help resolve issues with both DoD and the VA. It was indeed a very successful day and we are still getting feedback on those meetings. We are already being asked if we are going to make this an annual event. The answer is maybe but we aren’t ready to say that for sure.
NAMA Hits the Hill – Six weeks after the NFBEI/NCSAB D.C. Fly-In, the National Automatic Merchandising Association held its first ever Day on the Hill. It too was very successful as over 200 vending industry members attended and visited the members of Congress. Blind entrepreneurs were well represented as approximately 20 attended. NAMA leadership was very pleased with the involvement of our community. It is just another step toward a stronger relationship between the Randolph-Sheppard community and the larger vending industry. The partnership is natural since the issues that affect the vending industry as a whole affect blind vending operators as well.
President Gacos Assumes Position on NAMA Board – As was noted in the last issue, NABM President Nicky Gacos was elected to the NAMA Board of Directors in April. He officially assumed office on July 1st and hit the ground running. He completed the orientation training for new board members and has several other activities in which he will be involved. His election and involvement with NAMA will only help build the relationship between the two organizations. Gacos has made it clear that he plans to use his position to the benefit of all blind entrepreneurs.
FDA Guidelines Clarified – At the healthy vending workshop referenced earlier, a representative of the FDA made a very informative presentation. She clarified a couple of very important points. As reported in earlier issues of The Blitz, vending companies must start disclosing caloric content of all products effective December 1, 2016. It was clarified that the requirement only applies to companies that operate 20 or more vending machines. The FDA made two very important points. First, the requirement applies to machines operated by the blind entrepreneur and not the SLA. The SLA may own thousands of machines but if an individual blind entrepreneur operates fewer than 20, the requirement does not apply to him/her. The second important point was that if a blind entrepreneur has vending machines on full-service and simply receives a commission; those machines do not count toward the 20. Therefore, a blind entrepreneur could service 19 snack machines and have 15 drink machines on full-service and would not be required to disclose caloric content. The disturbing thing is the FDA did confirm that nothing in the law prohibits people from taking civil action against a vending operator who fails to disclose caloric content. In other words, if a customer uses a machine and the caloric disclosure requirement is not met, that customer can sue the vendor. This may sound ridiculous but it is a real threat to the livelihoods of blind entrepreneurs.
GSA Seeks Comments on Healthy Vending Guidelines – The U.S. General Services Administration has issued a Request For Information to gather responses from the vending and food service industry, private and public sector worksite leadership, public and environmental health organizations, and other interested parties on the successes and barriers encountered when implementing the current Guidelines. Interested individuals and organizations can view and provide comments in response to the RFI by visiting here. The public comment period is now open and will close on September 30, 2015.
NAMA, NCSAB, and NABM all will be submitting comments. We’d encourage all SLA’s to do the same. Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurs on federal properties should also consider submitting comments.
When Is a Guideline Not a Guideline? – It has come to our attention that a template for a national GSA permit has been sent to some SLA’s. We know it was sent out of the regional office in Atlanta to the states in the Southeast. This new template includes the healthy vending guidelines that mandate a certain percentage of snacks and drinks meet the guidelines. GSA does not have the legal authority to mandate these requirements. After all, they are simply guidelines. So, their strategy is to stick the language in permits. In the cover memo that accompanied the template, SLA’s were told GSA would not approve any permits that do not include this language. Some GSA regional folks are reportedly saying RSA has signed off on the language being added to the permits. This is not true. On the one hand, the requirements are not too burdensome in that only 25% of snacks and 30% of drinks must meet the guidelines but the guidelines themselves are very restrictive. We would like to see SLA’s resist signing such agreements and turning “guidelines” into “mandates.”
NABM Negotiates National Pricing with First Data / Clover – Clover is taking the country by storm. In case you haven’t heard of it, Clover is a fully accessible payment processing system that allows totally blind entrepreneurs to independently run the cash register and accept credit / debit card payments. It is a fraction of the cost of a talking cash register and does so much more. NABM has negotiated national pricing with First Data, which owns Clover, for both equipment and credit card processing fees. What makes this deal so great is that both the SLA’s and blind entrepreneurs benefit. The SLA is able to buy the Clover equipment taking advantage of the national pricing. Blind entrepreneurs benefit by paying lower credit / debit card processing fees. NABM/NFBEI makes no money if you buy equipment or use First Data’s processing services. Our only interest is helping blind entrepreneurs find accessible solutions and keep more of their money in their pockets. A Michigan blind entrepreneur and Clover were recently featured on Fox Business News’ Salute to American Success. To view the video or read the on-line story, click the link below or copy and paste it in your Internet browser.
Alexandra Duke is the First Data national business consultant who is working with Randolph-Sheppard. If you want more information, feel free to contact her at Alexandra.Duke@firstdata.com or 989-400-6317. It will be worth your time because she will most likely be able to cut what you are now paying in processing fees.
Rebates Still Flowing– Last month, the RSA Buying Group mailed out over $268,000 in rebates to blind entrepreneurs. The program is alive and well and at the current rate will easily surpass $1 Million annually in rebates to its approximately 1400 members. The program is a tremendous success and long overdue. Both consumer groups tried their hands at buying programs and failed but the RSA Buying Group has succeeded. But now there may be more good news. Up until now, many of our blind entrepreneurs were unable to take advantage of the rebate program because they didn’t buy through traditional vending channels. However, the RSA Buying Group is now adding a convenience store component to the program. This will offer additional opportunities for blind entrepreneurs to get rebates. John Murn will be sharing more about this exciting development. The program will only grow in the future with even greater income potential for blind entrepreneurs. And the Buying Group has launched a system that allows entrepreneurs to review their accounts on-line to ensure they are getting credit for all of their eligible purchases. Members have been asking for this and now it is here. Any blind entrepreneur who has problems or concerns with their rebates should contact John Murn.
Teaser: Crime Does Pay – We can’t make a formal announcement yet but we are working on a plan that would make it easier for sates to go after inmate commissaries. We are working with two companies to put together a package that would allow an SLA to offer a jail or prison a total solution to their inmate commissary / telephone service needs. Details will be available very soon but we have been looking for a way to help states follow Tennessee’s lead and we think we’ve found it. There is more money in inmate commissaries than many of the military dining contracts. If your Little Randolph-Sheppard Act priority applies to counties or prisons, there is tremendous opportunity. The package we are putting together will even offer opportunities when there is no priority. Have we peaked your curiosity? Well, there’ more to come.
Oregon / VA Settle Federal Court Case – If you are a regular reader of The Blitz, you have been following the ongoing battle between the Oregon SLA and the VA over vending at the VA’s White City facility. The SLA won an arbitration case but the VA refused to comply with the ruling. So, the SLA filed a complaint in federal court. Once a federal agency is sued in federal court, Department of Justice attorneys take over instead of the federal agency’s attorneys. In this case, that was a good thing. DOJ attorneys quickly sought settlement talks and an agreement was eventually reached that awarded the SLA exactly what it had initially asked for when it filed for a permit. The NFBEI wanted to see this case go to federal court and get a ruling from a federal judge which could be used as precedence in other cases involving the VA. However, one cannot fault the SLA for settling since it got exactly what it had asked. Either way, this just further demonstrates that states can get into these VA facilities if they will only persevere. There are 153 VA in-patient medical centers in the country. Only 3 have Randolph-Sheppard facilities. That means there are 150 arbitration petitions waiting to be filed.
DoD Contract Consolidation Still Under Consideration – As reported in previous issues of The Blitz, the Army is considering consolidating 11 troop-dining contracts into one national contract similar to the model employed by the Marines. During the D.C. Fly-In, a concerted effort was made to educate the Congressional and Senate offices representing districts where those 11 bases are located about this troublesome initiative. Several were very interested and sent inquiries to the Army on behalf of their blind vendor constituents. The Army’s responses indicate that the proposal is still under review and explain that cost savings and efficiencies are driving the idea. Although the Army indicated it is in the early stages of its exploration, there is clearly a very high interest in proceeding.
ServeSafe Coming & More Hadley News –
Online Entry Level Training – The NABM partnership with the Hadley School for the Blind continues to soar to new heights. Hadley has completed all 10 modules for the on-line entry-level training program. To date, 12 students have enrolled in the program. Some states are using the Hadley training as a supplement to their classroom training while in others the Hadley training is the academic portion of the training. The feedback from the students has been extremely favorable. We are being told the quality and depth of the content exceeds what many states currently offer. We expect more states to start using the Hadley training as Hadley continues to receive more and more positive feedback.
ServeSafe Training Almost Here – There is more exciting news. Hadley is in the process of developing 2 new training modules on ServeSafe. These new modules will be incorporated into the on-line entry-level training program at no additional cost. They will also be offered as stand-alone modules that can be taken by current blind entrepreneurs. Having a fully accessible ServeSafe course will be of real benefit to the Randolph-Sheppard community. Since the National Restaurant Association requires that certification exams be proctored, Hadley will not be able to offer these exams on-line. They will have to be taken in the local area.
Individual Modules Available for Upward Mobility Training – Since the day the Hadley on-line training program was announced, the number one question has been can current blind entrepreneurs take individual modules? The answer to that question is now yes. The cost for taking an individual module is $500. In some instances, SLA’s are asking their vendors who are experiencing performance issues to take one or more modules. In others, blind entrepreneurs are taking the courses as upward mobility training. In either case, the SLA’s are paying the cost. This is another exciting development and just one more way Hadley and NABM are trying to meet the needs of blind entrepreneurs and state agencies.
More on Hadley: Active Participation Wins the Prize – In conjunction with Hadley, NABM / NFBEI are offering a program it calls Randolph-Sheppard on the Web. Every 3 to 4 months, a webinar is presented on an issue of importance to blind entrepreneurs. To date, the following webinars have been presented:
SSDI: What the Blind Entrepreneur Needs to Know
Active Participation: What It Is and What It Is Not
The Customer Service Advantage
Micro Markets and Their Role in Randolph-Sheppard
NAMA’s Fit Pick: Making It Work for Blind Entrepreneurs
Generally speaking, 50-60 people typically participate in the live webinars. However, Hadley archives these and they are available for blind entrepreneurs to listen to at their convenience. To date, over 1100 people have taken advantage of the archives. Which one is most popular? It’s not even close. The one on active participation has been listened to 450 times. The concept is over 40 years old but it still generates more interest than most any topic. The webinar is basically a version of a training Terry Smith has done for Elected Committees and SLA’s.
RSA and AbilityOne Pledge Cooperation – On July 1st, RSA and the AbilityOne Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to work cooperatively on issues of mutual interest. The MOU was the result of ongoing dialogue with AbilityOne which was first initiated by the NFBEI. Two years ago, the NFBEI and NCSAB reached out to AbilityOne and began discussions to see if there was common ground on the major issues that divide the two programs. RSA Commissioner Janet LaBreck learned of these discussions and asked to be involved. The MOU is the result. Although largely symbolic in nature and not addressing the major conflicts between the respective programs, the MOU does represent a major step forward in the relationship between Randolph-Sheppard and AbilityOne. We still have a fundamental difference on troop dining and when the R-S priority applies. But the MOU provides the framework for future discussions which can hopefully bridge that gap. Some of the things the MOU promises to do are:
Develop and disseminate non-regulatory guidance;
Exchange information about best practices;
Invite each other to national training conferences; and,
Provide technical assistance to entities who need it.
Treadway Named to NAMA Committee – Sharon Treadway, a Tennessee blind entrepreneur and NABM Secretary, was recently named by NAMA to its Nutrition Leadership Committee. It is this committee that deals with Fit Pick and healthy vending issues. Sharon has extensive experience in vending and this year opened her first micromarket. Blind entrepreneurs should be excited that their voices will be heard as NAMA takes on this challenge. Sharon will be the point person for distributing information to the R-S community as there are news and developments in the healthy vending arena.
Missouri Legislates Income Cap – In what has to be one of the strangest twists in memory, the Missouri State Legislature incorporated language into the budget bill that essentially places a cap on the earnings of one blind person. The bill says that any Randolph-Sheppard vending facility which meets certain criteria must have 3 blind vendors. Only one facility, the one at Fort Leonard Wood which is operated by Gene Fleeman, meets the criteria. Effective July 1st, the SLA was to place 2 additional blind vendors at that site. It has not done so yet. In our opinion, this is clearly retaliation against the blind entrepreneur who was vocally critical of the way his teaming partner was selected; a process that didn’t even allow the blind entrepreneur to participate. The NFBEI has had talks with the SLA and the matter has been referred to the Rehabilitation Services Administration for guidance. The law may or may not be legal but that is not the issue. Fairness is the issue. If they want multiple vendors on a single property, they must promulgate rules and regulations and do so with the active participation of the Committee of Blind Vendors. Such rules must be approved by RSA prior to their implementation. It is our hope that the rules grandfather in the current vendor and only assign multiple vendors once he leaves. It is also unfair to any vendors who might be assigned to the base considering Fort Leonard Wood is one of the contracts being considered for consolidation into a national contract. It is conceivable that a blind vendor could give up his/her current facility, move his/her family, and then be displaced in 6 months if the Army goes through with the consolidation effort. The NFBEI hopes common sense will prevail.
Arbitration Panel Awards Damages to Idaho Vendor – In a recent arbitration decision, the arbitration panel unanimously found that the Idaho Commission for the Blind “utterly failed” to give Lynn Kneip, a licensed blind vendor, the opportunity to improve his performance before terminating his license. The panel concluded that this “scenario is fundamentally unfair, and – more importantly – it amounts to a breach of the Commission’s own regulations.” The panel ruled “the Commission failed to comply with the training requirements of its own regulations and with the training requirements of the Randolph-Sheppard Act,” citing 34 C.F.R.§ 395.11. The vendor was reinstated to the facility he operated at the time of termination and notably awarded compensation for the 3 years he was out of the facility. Mr. Kneip was represented by Susan Gashel, who was paid in part by the NFB of Idaho.
Auditors Hit Tar Heel State Hard – Most state agencies and business enterprises programs have undergone the scrutiny of state auditors. It is never pleasant. North Carolina is the most recent to be hit hard by state auditors. Auditors had two major findings. First, the agency was cited for not having goals with measurable performance standards. The second finding related to lack of management oversight of the program. Clay Pope, the BEP Director has retired, but the agency appears committed to addressing the issues identified in the audit report.
Arizona Gets Some Bad Pub – After riding a wave of amazingly positive press coverage, the Arizona BEP recently got some not so good publicity. The board of supervisors in a small conservative county balked at signing a new permit with the BEP. The supervisors expressed negative opinions about the program that they no longer view as being in the public interest. The issue was complicated by the fact the previous blind vendor had passed away and a third party vending company was servicing the machines. Supervisors essentially called the program a fraud and said it was a front for other people to make money. They wrote the Governor and their legislators to express their opinions and to ask that the program be reviewed. To its credit, the SLA defended the program and hailed it as a very successful program. Ultimately, the county signed the new permit. The publicity was unfortunate and unfounded. Arizona is not one of those programs that abuses the third party practice. Arizona believes in blind entrepreneurs working and being in control of their businesses. Nonetheless, it has changed the way it handles locations such as the one referenced here. It has essentially turned over most of its unassigned locations to blind entrepreneurs who are either subcontracting or operating the machines themselves.
Mobile App Helps Identify Vending Machine Products for the Blind – There is a mobile app for almost everything today. There’s now one that will identify products in a vending machine for blind customers. The app is VelaSense and was recently unveiled by Verizon Wireless for use with Android phones. Here is a link to an article that recently appeared in The Automated Merchandiser:
NABM Submits WIOA Comments – In response to the Rehabilitation Services Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking and request for public comments in regards to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, NABM submitted comments. Two main points were made. First, we asked that RSA use a broader definition of transition services to protect funding for other programs including Randolph-Sheppard. WIOA requires states to use 15% of their funds to provide services to transition age youth. As proposed, a very narrow definition of transition services is being contemplated and this could force states to take funds away from other programs such as R-S and shift them to transition services. A more liberal definition would afford some funding protection for these other programs. NABM also complimented RSA for the changes in the rules that will make it easier for state VR agencies to serve current R-S vendors.
California Rest Area Vendors Score Major Victory – Congratulations to the California rest area vendors who won a two-year battle in the California General Assembly to exempt themselves from paying utilities. State law grants a priority to blind vendors on state property and forbids the state entity to charge the blind entrepreneur utilities. However, state officials interpreted another law to allow such charges at interstate rest areas. The blind entrepreneurs had a bill introduced last year that would treat rest area vendors the same as vendors on other properties. It almost passed. They tried again this year and were successful in getting the bill passed and signed by the Governor. Congratulations to all who helped pass that bill. It again shows the collective political power blind entrepreneurs have when lobbying for legislation that advances their program. Too many times we hear blind entrepreneurs in states accept less than what they could achieve because they fear what they could lose. The California rest area vendors risked a lot but had so much to gain. As a result, facilities that would have probably been closed will continue to offer an opportunity for a blind person. A CBS TVE News affiliate ran a story. To watch the story, click on the link below or copy and paste it in your web browser:
California Vending Tax Unfair? – California does not tax food. Well, that’s not exactly true. California does not tax food UNLESS it is bought in a vending machine. You can walk into a convenience store, buy a pack of peanut butter and crackers, and it is tax-free. Buy that same pack of peanut and butter and crackers from a vending machine and you will pay sales tax. Does that sound fair? Some in the California State Legislature think it is not and a bill was introduced this past session to exempt food vending sales from sales tax. Opponents killed the bill and it faces an uncertain future next year. California’s blind entrepreneurs were not heavily engaged with this issue but could be next year as will the California Automatic Merchandising Association. Below is a link to an article that appeared in the Capitol Weekly, which covers the California State Legislature:
Hourly or Salary? That is the Question – Are any of the employees in vending facilities in your state classified as salaried versus hourly workers? If so, the rules of the game are changing. Under current federal regulations, a salaried employee must earn a minimum of $455 per week which equates to $23,660 per year. However, the U.S. Department of Labor recently published proposed regulations that would raise that amount to $970 per week or $50,440 annually. The minimum will be adjusted periodically based on average earnings of all workers in the U.S. This is a significant increase that could impact many small businesses. Workers even though salaried who earn less than the minimum will be entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. The DOL is now accepting public comments on the proposed changes. NAMA is preparing comments on behalf of the vending industry at large. If you would be directly impacted by the change, you should let your voice be heard as well. The proposed rule change could affect some state employees as well as many nonprofit agency employees.
Dressing Up the $10 Bill – In June, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced that in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, a woman’s portrait will appear on the $10 bill either with or in place of Alexander Hamilton. According to the announcement, the leading candidates are Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks. The Treasury was asking for public input on the decision. According to a recent McClatchy-Marist poll, Americans favor Eleanor Roosevelt. Whoever gets the distinction will not be the first woman to appear on a U.S. bill. In the 1890’s, Martha Washington’s portrait appeared on the $1silver certificate. The Secretary of the Treasury is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year.
Welcome Wagon Calling – Welcome aboard Anna Kim! Anna was recently named as the new BEP Director in Maryland replacing Bart Peeples who retired. Anna has 20 years experience with the Maryland BEP as a Business Counselor and has been involved with the planning and coordination of the vendor training conferences and upward mobility training.
Saying Goodbye – We have to say goodbye to another long-time state BEP Director. David Lamb, BEP Director in New Hampshire, retired in August. David was well-known and was a regular attendee at our BLAST conferences. He is moving to Florida. He is the second BEP Director this year to retire and move to the Sunshine State. Bart Peeples of Maryland led the way this past spring. No more bureaucracy. No more cold weather. Life must be good for those two.
The NFBEI on the Road – The NFBEI continues to be on the road visiting states and participating in annual training conferences. Terry Smith racked up some frequent flyer miles traveling to Nevada in June, Arizona in July, and Massachusetts, Indiana, and Florida in August. Nicky Gacos was in Iowa for a multi-state conference, Indiana, and Oklahoma. September and October are shaping up to be busy months for both Terry Smith and Nicky Gacos. They will be visiting at least a half dozen states.
You Can Still Help – Do you like what the NFBEI is doing to advocate for the program on a national level and to assist individual state programs? Do you enjoy reading The Blitz and being kept informed about what is going on in the Randolph-Sheppard community? If so, we can use your financial support. Over half of our support comes from the NFBEI subscriptions but we count on donations to make up the rest. If you would like to contribute to the cause, we would welcome your donation. You can donate by sending a check to:
National Association of Blind Merchants
7450 Chapman Highway, Suite 319
Knoxville, TN 37920
Make the check payable to NABM and write “NFBEI” in the memo portion of the check. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Share Your News with Everyone- Help us keep everyone informed about what is happening around the country. Let us hear from you. Tell us what is going on in your state. What is happening in one state affects what is going on in another, and the NFBEI is the vehicle to keep everyone updated on what is going on out there.
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