Legislation Makes Oregon's Blind Vending Program A 'Priority'

Posted On: 6/1/2017

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TAGS: blind vending operator, blind vendor, Oregon's House, Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, Oregon House Bill 3253, Randolph-Sheppard Act, vending machine, Lund Report

PORTLAND, OR -- Oregon's House on May 25 unanimously approved a bill from Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) that will revamp the state's vending machine program. It would give blind vendors first priority for vending and other food contracts on state and local government properties. House Bill 3253 now goes to the state Senate.

The Randolph-Sheppard Act, signed into law in 1936, gives priority to blind people to operate vending machines on government properties. But Oregon's program only gives blind vendors "preference," not priority, according to an article in The Lund Report. The state reportedly has only 14 blind vendors, compared with 115 in Tennessee, for example, which gives first priority to blind vendors for any food and vending contracts on public property, the paper reported.

The bill would give first priority to blind business owners and require vending operators to pay fees to the Commission for the Blind.

Most blind vendors in the state subcontract vending companies owned by other operators to stock their machines, according to the Lund Report. House Bill 3253 gives legal clearance to these subcontractors, but discounts the Commission for the Blind fees if the business owners hire blind managers or service personnel. The legislation also provides for fee discounts for vending machines in which half of food and drinks are healthy or locally produced.

In 2013, Keny-Guyer introduced a bill mandating that vending machines in public buildings sell only healthy snacks and diet soda that did not pass.