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Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016

Vending machines in public spaces claim revenue to aid blind workers

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Betty Laws, blind since birth, stands in her driveway with special glasses for driving.
A hearing today in Nashville was scheduled to make permanent rules to allow blind individuals to exclusively operate vending machines on public property in Tennessee.

The measure has local officials scratching their heads about the 1937-era regulations, last revised in 1994, that many said they did not know about. A letter from the state sent last month notes local governments have a "statutory priority" to provide vending to the blind through Tennessee Business Enterprise, an entity in the Department of Human Services.

"It's been litigated several times," said DHS spokesperson Katherine Mowery Johnson. "And every time the attorney general's opinion comes down, the law comes down on the side the blind vendors."

City Recorder Gleyn Twilla, who received the July 3 letter to the city, said the program, while well-intentioned, "has a potential to take money away from ongoing community programs."

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