Anyone who makes a career out of running the rails or drilling track lists in the yard has qualities that are hard to find in 2024. Rail workers are throwbacks to a time when hard work, dignity, and the ability to improvise and overcome were valued.

Not only are the men and women who make up our State Legislative Boards in touch with the working conditions they want to improve, but they have also made it in the world of railroading. That speaks to the qualities a person has at their core. When they roll into any state house in the country, they bring more than our message with them. They bring our swagger and our ingenuity, too.

One of the best examples is our State Legislative Board in Colorado. This group has been on the cutting edge of this organization and has been taking the state house in Denver by storm.

Carl Smith, SMART-TD’s state legislative director in Colorado, has 12 years of experience in his role and a team of legislative representatives (LRs) around him as hungry for improvements as they are effective.

Gov. Jared Polis signs Colorado’s rail safety bill H.B. 1030 on May 10, 2024.

This win creates oversight that should put safety first

Smith’s team in Colorado pushed their state to become among the first in the country to adopt 2PC, and succeeded for the members of SMART-TD yet again in their fight for the Colorado Rail Safety Act.

The act (H.B. 1030) is a comprehensive rail safety package that will provide protection for our members in the Mile High State and set a precedent for what we can achieve nationwide. It combines policies that proved successful in other states, and reads like a SMART-TD highlight reel:

  • Creates the Colorado Office of Rail Safety monitoring the following throughout Colorado:
    • HazmatTrain lengthRail operationsTrack conditionsMechanicalSignal systems
    • Blocked crossings
  • Doubles the number of rail safety inspectors in the state
  • Reinforces the role of SMART-TD and all rail labor organizations in investigations,
  • Provides for training for first responders,
  • Reinforces whistleblower protections for railroad workers,
  • Regulates the placement and enforcement of wayside defect detectors.

Why we do it

On May 10, 2024, Gov. Jared Polis signed the Colorado RSA into law. When the ink dried on his signature, it cemented yet another win for Smith, Colorado’s Legislative Board, workers’ rights, public safety, and common sense.

SMART-TD wants to thank and congratulate SLD Carl Smith, the Colorado Legislative Board, and, most importantly, our Colorado members. We appreciate your fight for this bill, and your victory will pave the way for a heightened level of safety for thousands of your brothers and sisters far beyond the borders of your state.

This victory was not gift-wrapped for SMART-TD. Railroad lobbyists and the legislators they have in their camp threw more than one curveball at Brother Smith and his legislative board, which we’ll get into in a future article. The professionalism of this group of LRs is an excellent example of what this organization is capable of!