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June 26, 2003 – Governor

Honorable Rod Blagojevich

Governor
State of Illinois
Springfield , Illinois

 

Dear Governor Blagojevich:

 

The blind vendors of the State of Illinois are deeply grateful to you for your steadfast interest and support for their right to the establishment of blind vending facilities on State property. We submitted to you a proposed Administrative Order which is under review by your legal counsel, Tom Londrigan, and have been led to believe you are strongly in favor of issuing the order.

 

We are anxious about the progress of your staff’s review, and want to make certain that you understand the nature and background of the Federal Randolph-Sheppard Act and Chapter 20 ILCS, Act 2420. As do many states, soon after the 1974 amendments to the Federal law were enacted, Illinois created its own “Little Randolph-Sheppard Act” to ensure that the law affecting Federal property is essentially replicated with respect to State property. Many such state laws exactly mirror the Federal law’s provisions.

 

The Randolph-Sheppard Act was designed to give blind vendors a priority—a prior right—to operate vending facilities on all Federal property. States are able to exercise this priority in exchange for the right to bring in vending machine income to support the blind vendor programs. In many states, this means that very little program money from the general treasury is necessary to support such programs; blind vendors largely provide financial support for their own services through the imposition of a levy on their net incomes. That is the case in Illinois .

 

As you know, the various departments and agencies of the State of Illinois historically have resisted the placement of blind vendors on property under their control because they want to have exclusive purview over how their property is used. This is a natural and normal inclination, and it is seen throughout the country both within states and in Federal departments and agencies. But state agencies simply do not have that option because of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and its state counterparts. The state law and regulations of the Department of Human Services require such state agencies to prefer blind vending operations, yet the state agencies constantly resist the placement of blind vendors on property for which they are responsible. That reality is the reason for your signing the Administrative Order.

 

The Department of Human Services has for years resisted the blind vendors’ efforts to aggressively identify and collect vending machine income from Federal agencies, even though we have an absolute right to that income, and even though the funds could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars to our program. The department has been insufficiently aggressive in demanding that State agencies give the required preference to blind-operated vending facilities.

 

We blind vendors could have a much stronger program, well financed without burdening the State of Illinois . In order to accomplish these objectives, we need you to sign the Administrative Order as we have proposed it. Thank you again for your strong support. We are depending on you.

 

Respectfully,

 

John Gordon, Chair
Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors

 

cc: Tom Londrigan, Esq.

Tom Cullen