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2015 Resolutions

The official policy statements of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan are established every year with annual resolutions adopted at the state convention.

The resolutions committee meets early during the convention. Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.

Resolution 2015-01: Regarding Oversight Hearing

WHEREAS On June 22, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder issued Executive Order 2012-10 which abolished the 5 person Commission for the Blind and replaced it with an advisory Committee with no powers to set official policy or carry out other duties formerly carried out by the Michigan Commission for the blind under Public Act 260 of 1978; and

WHEREAS, The abolition of the Commission Board has left blind persons with no direct input into the oversight, policy development or monitoring of quality services to people who are blind in Michigan; and

WHEREAS: The lack of an official means of communication between the blind community and the agency mandated to serve it has resulted in a dearth of fundamental information regarding the level of services, the quality of services and the fundamental philosophy of how those services are provided; and

WHEREAS: evidence in the form of daily complaints to the President and other members of the NFB of Michigan leads the NFB of Michigan to believe that the quantity and quality of services to blind persons has precipitously declined since 2012; and

WHEREAS: Freedom of Information requests, legislative requests and informal requests for information go un answered or answered with exorbitant charges for information mandated to be provided under federal law, it is impossible for citizens to gauge the efficiency or effectiveness of the expenditures of more than $25 million taxpayer funds to provide services to provide jobs for blind persons; and

WHEREAS, one of the last means of determining the quality, quantity and appropriateness of services to blind persons under Public Act 260 of 1978 is to petition the Michigan legislature for oversight hearings: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in convention assembled, this eighth day of November, 2015, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, that this organization call upon the Michigan House and Senate to conduct oversight hearings to determine the effectiveness of services to blind persons under Public Act 260 of 1978; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Governor and/or legislature to rescind Executive Order 2012-10 and restore the 5 person board of citizens made of a minimum of 3 blind persons to set policy and oversee the activities of the agency charged with providing jobs and other rehabilitation services to blind persons; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the president or board of this organization be empowered to expend funds, organize events and take other necessary actions to carry out the goals of this resolution.

Resolution 2015-02: Regarding University of Michigan Thank You

WHEREAS, Blind children often are unable to participate or fully participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics on an equal basis with their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan has been attempting to encourage blind youth to have confidence and gain skills in STEM subjects which will lead to greater participation and success in these subject areas since 2010; and

WHEREAS, The University of Michigan - Dearborn has actively supported the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind Of Michigan by hosting our annual Summer science programs by providing staff, facilities and a welcoming attitude; and

WHEREAS, By hosting the summer science programs on the University of Michigan - Dearborn campus, the university provides a rich learning environment and encourages blind youth to have confidence that they can be successful in a college STEM course of study: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in convention assembled, this eighth day of November, 2015, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, that this organization commend and thank the University of Michigan - Dearborn for its strong and generous support of the National Federation of the blind of Michigan's work to improve and strengthen the future success of blind youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.

Resolution 2015-03: Michigan Braille Transcribing Thank You

WHEREAS, blind children do not participate in STEM learning activities and careers at the same rate as their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers are above average employment opportunities in terms of income and availability; and

WHEREAS, STEM fields are as accessible to trained and educated blind persons as any other career choice; and

WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan has been organizing and presenting Summer Science programs since 2010 to encourage blind students and the education community to include blind students in Science Technology, Engineering and math activities; and

WHEREAS, NFB of Michigan works diligently to provide the best teachers and mentors including blind scientists, blind business persons and blind technologists along with a world-class university teaching staff and environment, in its Summer Science programs; and

WHEREAS, The NFB of MI wishes to provide state-of-the-art materials and equipment for blind students to use and learn from; and

WHEREAS, The Michigan Braille transcribing Fund has generously provided grants to outfit our programs with the latest and best equipment available for teaching of science to blind and visually impaired children, thus creating a rich learning environment which is designed to stimulate blind youth to consider STEM careers as a viable career choice: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in convention assembled, this eighth day of November, 2015, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, that this organization thanks and commends the Michigan Braille Transcribing fund for their ongoing support of teaching Science, Technology, engineering and Math to blind youth by providing accessible, high quality, cutting edge equipment to the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.

Resolution 2015-04: Regarding Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) Business Enterprise Program Elected Operators’ Committee lawful right to “actively participate” in program administration

WHEREAS, the federal-state partnership employment program for blind individuals, known as the Randolph-Sheppard Program, since 1937 has been an important and valuable program for qualified blind persons to be licensed and operate a variety of food concessions on federal and state owned and leased properties; and

WHEREAS, in 1974 Congress saw fit to amend the Randolph-Sheppard Act, with the expressed intent of having licensed blind vendors, be a partner in the program administration, through the establishment of a Committee of Blind Vendors in each state, with the mandated role of “active participation” in the ongoing administration of the state program. The “active participation” is a mandated right of licensed blind vendors, and there is no provision in the Act to administratively veto by any state official, the right to “active participation” by the state committee of blind vendors, in Michigan commonly known as the Elected Operators’ Committee (promulgated rule 393.52), or EOC; and

WHEREAS, recent practice by BSBP Director Edward Rodgers and Business Enterprise Program management has deliberately ignored the federal law mandated right of “active participation”, in virtually all aspects of program administration by the Elected Operators’ Committee, i.e. leasing of vending equipment, hiring of new manager, closing or combining of facilities, and installing franchise requirements), thus violating a major provision of the Act important to the self-determination, and the present and future sound administration and viability of the state program: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in convention assembled, this eighth day of November, 2015, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, that this organization strongly deplore and condemn the unilateral and illegal violation of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, by BSBP Director Edward Rodgers and BEP management, by eliminating mandated and welcomed “active participation: by elected representatives of licensed blind vendors, through the Elected Operators’ Committee (EOC); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan strongly urge the BSBP director, Edward Rodgers, without delay and retaliation toward any blind licensed vendor, immediately restore the mandated “active participation” of the elected Operators: Committee (EOC), in the administration of the Business Enterprise Program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, encourages and supports any and all appropriate action by the Elected Operators’ Committee (EOC) to restore and maintain their “active participation” right and role in the program administration; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, urge the national division of blind vendors of the National Federation of the Blind, to take all appropriate and necessary action to ensure compliance with the “active participation” provision of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, as a right of Michigan licensed blind vendors, through their Elected Operators Committee; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, strongly urge the appropriate officials at the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration to ensure full compliance with all provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, by Michigan state licensing agency and state administration officials, and take any and all corrective and monitoring action to ensure full and ongoing compliance with the ACT.

Resolution 2015-05: Regarding New Accessible Voting Machines and Equipment for Michigan

WHEREAS, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 enables blind voters and other voters with disabilities to exercise their right to vote privately and independently at each polling location by requiring at least one voting system accessible to individuals with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation in the voting process; and

WHEREAS, the state of Michigan is currently undergoing the process of evaluating and certifying new voting machines and equipment to replace aging voting machines and equipment purchased over ten years ago to comply with the provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002; and

WHEREAS, the state of Michigan has about $25 million in funds left over from the federal grant given to the state of Michigan in 2004 and 2005 as a part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 making it possible for the state of Michigan to purchase new voting machines and equipment as soon as the evaluation and certification process is complete; and

WHEREAS, the state of Michigan does not appear to be transparent in the process of evaluating and certifying new voting machines and equipment by allowing voters, including blind and visually impaired voters, the ability to provide meaningful input and feedback regarding the voting machines and equipment under consideration; and

WHEREAS, voters in states where the evaluation and certification process for obtaining new voting machines and equipment were open and transparent, such as Maryland, appear to be more satisfied with the evaluation and certification of new voting machines and equipment when compared to other states, such as New Mexico, that did not have an open and transparent evaluation and certification process for new voting machines and equipment: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in convention assembled, this eighth day of November, 2015, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, that this organization express in writing to the Michigan Secretary of State our extreme disappointment in the lack of an open and transparent evaluation and certification process for obtaining new voting machines and equipment for the state of Michigan; and

BE It FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take a proactive role in the evaluation and certification process for obtaining new voting machines and equipment for the state of Michigan by submitting a written recommendation to the Michigan Secretary of State based on decisions made in other states to ensure the new voting machines and equipment will meet the needs of blind and visually impaired voters in Michigan.

Resolution 2015-06: Regarding Public Transportation

WHEREAS, Transportation is of critical concern to blind persons, affecting virtually all aspects of life, including employment, family support, health, recreation and most all social activities enjoyed and experienced by all citizens; and

WHEREAS, There persists a 70% unemployment rate among blind persons , which impose economic limitations to transportation choices beyond those due to the innate limitations caused by blindness; and

WHEREAS, Publicly Subsidized transportation, including line-haul and para-transit, is the most affordable means of transportation available to most blind persons; and

WHEREAS, Michigan’s public transportation is inconsistent and plagued by extremely fragmented service areas, divided by artificial political boundaries without regard to employment sources, residential areas, shopping, medical or other necessary or recreational facilities, services or developments; and

WHEREAS, such arbitrary and dysfunctional boundaries cause transportation services to be unevenly distributed, inefficient and expensive to provide; and

WHEREAS, virtually all public transportation receives federal funds from a variety of sources; and

WHEREAS, federally funded transportation ought to be provided to all citizens on an equal basis with regard to cost, days and hours of service and availability; and

WHEREAS, Attempts to form regional transportation regions have mainly failed in Michigan, resulting in Michigan’s largest metropolitan area to have an extremely dysfunctional array of disconnected and fragment patchwork of services, proving that despite decades of effort, local jurisdictions are incapable of working together to provide useful, affordable, effective and connected public transportation for their citizens; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has devised a standard means of defining regions where citizens share a common economic interest known as Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSA which may be a useful way of creating integrated and connected systems of public transportation; and

WHEREAS, based on the inability of local units of government to effectively work together to provide equitable and efficient public transportation, the logical conclusion is that only state government is in a position to create an interconnected system serving all parts of the state: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in convention assembled, this eighth day of November, 2015, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, that this organization adopt as its ultimate goal the creation of a statewide transportation authority to take over the responsibility of the provision of affordable, accessible, efficient and comprehensive public transportation to serve employment, medical, family and social needs of all Michigan families; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work in the interim to create regional unified, comprehensive, affordable, accessible public transportation systems which serve the needs of all persons within the region without regard to political boundaries based on a rational system of equitable public service; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take an active role in creating a fertile environment for sensible public transportation by joining, participating in, advocating for or against public transportation boards, committees, study groups, commissions or other similar bodies created to manage, improve, oversee or reform public transportation in Michigan; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board or President be authorized to expend funds and organize activities to further the creation of a state-of-the-art statewide transportation system in Michigan.

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