Despite all of our work, HB 2230 has passed through the Oklahoma Legislature. The fight is not over. The following letter was sent to Governor Fallin urging her to veto HB 2230 which exempts county jails from the BEP program and puts blind business owners to work in certain vending facilities in government buildings. We still need your help contacting the Governor and demanding a veto. You can call the Governor’s office at (405) 521-2342 or fax a letter to Governor Fallin at 405-521-3353. Unfortunately, the Governor does not have a direct email address however you can fill out this form to email the Governor. Share this information with your friends via email and social media. Be sure to use the hashtag #BlindPushBack.
April 28, 2017
Dear Governor Fallin:
I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma on behalf of our Board of Directors and our membership to urge you to veto HB 2230 as it is detrimental to the blind of Oklahoma and continues a trend by the Oklahoma Legislature of putting blind Oklahomans out of work.
HB 2230, which was passed by the Legislature on April27, 2017, exempts Oklahoma county jails from the requirement to have licensed blind operators operate vending facilities. Adding county jails to an ever expanding list of facilities that are exempted from this requirement puts blind people out of work and onto public assistance. With an unemployment rate of approximately 70%, it is irrational and unconscionable to take jobs away from well-qualified and successful blind entrepreneurs who operate these vending facilities. It seems that each year, a new exemption is added to this requirement. Just last year, blind vendors were forced out of the State Capitol due to similar legislation. Now it is county jails. This continuing trend of taking jobs from the blind must end. It is bad for the blind and it is bad for Oklahoma.
Furthermore, it is extremely discouraging and disheartening that this legislation and other legislation affecting the blind has been written and adopted without any input from those of us who are most impacted by it. With every trip we made to the Capitol this legislative session, we have been patronized and ignored. We, the blind of Oklahoma, are the most qualified experts in blindness and the issues affecting us. We live with blindness every day and know what works best for us to adapt and live independently and successfully. We can work. Many of us do work. Most of us want to work. Yet, the legislature continues to ignore us and takes away job opportunities from us.
I strongly urge you to veto HB 2230. It is bad policy that puts blind people out of work and was drafted with a total lack of input from the blind of Oklahoma and continues an appalling trend demonstrating a total disregard for blind Oklahomans. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions concerning this issue.
Jeannie M. Massay
National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma