As reported in May, SMART-TD’s Michigan State Legislative Board has been working hard to pass legislation to prevent violent assaults on our transit and freight members in the state.

House Bills 4917 and 4918 both received bipartisan support in Lansing’s House of Representatives thanks to the efforts of SMART-TD’s Michigan State Legislative Director Don Roach and the members of his board. However, they need members’ support to get the bills across the finish line in the Senate and to the governor.

Brother Roach’s two bills add the crime of assaulting a bus operator, transit, or freight railroad employee to the state’s Code of Criminal Procedure in an effort to address the growing number of violent assaults that affect SMART-TD members and others in the transportation industry.

These important bills had overwhelming support in Michigan’s House of Representatives.

On June 20, that support hit a speed bump. When both bills hit the Senate’s Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee, they passed, but did so along party lines.

Logically, preventing and punishing aggravated and felonious assault against railroaders and bus operators should transcend partisan politics. It did in Michigan’s House.

But the partisan nature of the Senate’s committee vote has our SLB in Michigan asking for members to spread the word. Please follow this link to SMART-TD’s action center to send your state senator a prewritten message of support for these bills. YOU could be the difference between life and death for your union brothers and sisters!

As the bill is currently being presented to the Michigan Senate, the penalties for assaulting rail workers or bus operators in the state will be increased to maximum sentences ranging from 93 days to eight years’ imprisonment along with maximum fines ranging from $1,000 to $8,000. Criminal history and the involvement of weapons in the assault dictate where the perpetrator would fall on the scale of punishment.

These bills increase penalties for assaults on our transit professionals and also mandate signage on buses and trains to notify the public of the increase in the severity of charges and penalties. The signs are preventive measures aimed at stopping assaults from happening in the first place.

SLD Roach said they’ve been working on these bills for over two years at this point.

“We have been working on these assault bills with our lead sponsor, Representative Samantha Steckloft (D-19th Dist.), for too long to see them get stalled in the Senate now! We have built a coalition of stakeholders, including the American Civil Liberties Union, and others championing this cause. Our members can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and watch when the stakes of this game are as important as they are with these bills.”

SMART Transportation Division Michigan State Legislative Director Don Roach reports that two bills supported by the union have taken a step forward in the state Legislature after receiving a key committee endorsement.

HB 4917 and HB 4918 seek to enhance protections for transportation workers by establishing more severe punishments for people who assault Amtrak employees, transit workers and bus operators.

The bills raise punishments for the assault of a transportation operator to a maximum of eight years, depending on the severity of the offense. They also make the punishments for repeat offenses more severe and adjust the state’s sentencing guidelines accordingly.

Fines for assault on transportation workers also would be increased — set at $1,000 or $8,000.

The bills, introduced July 18, were passed through the House’s Criminal Justice Committee with a recommendation from the committee for passage by the full House. A date for the legislation to be considered has not yet been set.

The bills’ primary sponsor is state Rep. Samantha Steckloff of Michigan’s 19th District.

Police now have a suspect in custody after members of the community identified the man in the video.
“On May 3rd, 2019, Montebello Detectives received information from several citizens who recognized the suspect from the video. Detectives were able to contact witnesses who positively identified the suspect. In an attempt to locate the suspect, Detectives discovered the suspect was currently in custody and being housed at the Los Angeles County Jail for an arrest for domestic violence which occurred on April 3rd, 2019,” Montebello police said in a statement on the department’s Facebook page.
“The Montebello police department will present this bus assault case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing consideration. The suspect has been identified as Vincent Eric Ramirez, 32 years of age. Ramirez is a Montebello resident.
“Thank you to the community for your help and efforts in solving this crime. Your support made the difference in this case.”

Original story:
Police are asking for the help of the public in finding a man who brutally attacked another passenger as they both were exiting a Montebello bus March 12.
According to police and bus surveillance video, the suspect punched the victim in the back of the head as he got off the bus, knocking the victim unconscious. The attacker then kicked the man three times before walking away.
“The suspect appears to be in his mid to late 20’s, medium build with a goatee. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, blue khaki pants and a black backpack. Please also listen to the voice of the suspect at the beginning of the video,” Montebello police said in a post published May 2 on their facebook page in a plea for help in identifying the suspect.
SMART Transportation Division represents bus operators and mechanics employed by Montebello Bus Lines in Local 1701 in Montebello, California.
The assailant could have easily turned and assaulted the bus operator as well, which is why SMART TD supports H.R. 1139 – the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act, which would protect bus operators from violent incidents like this one.
Click here to ask legislators for their support on H.R. 1139.
Click here to read more from KTLA5.