Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Urges Congress
to Reject Commercializing Rest Stops

Transportation Bill Amendment Threatens Livelihood
of Hundreds of Blind Entrepreneurs

Baltimore, Maryland (February 14, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, today urged the United States Congress to reject an amendment to the proposed American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7) that would allow the commercialization of highway rest stops.  Currently, the only commercial activity permitted at such rest stops is the operation of vending machines by blind entrepreneurs under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “This amendment would threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of blind entrepreneurs in the United States who depend on revenue from rest stop vending machines.  With an unemployment rate among blind Americans that exceeds 70 percent, such a move is deeply irresponsible, as these entrepreneurs will lose their businesses and be forced to rely on public assistance.  We urge Congress to reject this ill-considered and reckless proposal.”

The amendment, #217, has been put forward by Congressmen Steve LaTourette (R-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).  The House Committee on Rules is expected to vote later today on whether to allow the amendment.