As a direct result of the powerful message we’ve sent to two state legislators and the work by Oklahoma’s State Legislative Board, a two-person rail crew bill will be heard in the House of Representatives’ transportation committee.

Yet H.B. 1075 needs your continued help to progress through the legislative process. Please continue to encourage the Transportation Committee chairpersons in the state House and Senate to move on this critical rail safety legislation by following the link in the email all Oklahoma members recieved from Brother Pense.

Our hearing for House Bill 1075 is Tuesday, February 27. There, SMART-TD Oklahoma State Legislative Director Kyle Pense and the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ken Luttrell (R 37th Dist.), will have the opportunity to speak our truth to power.

Oklahoma State Legislative Director Kyle Pense

Oklahoma members continue to play a significant role in applying needed political pressure to push 2PC through the process. This month, Brother Pense sent out a call to action to our Oklahoma members, and they answered. SMART-TD members, their friends and family have emailed and sent numerous messages supporting 2PC. These strategically chosen targets received roughly 120 emails each from Oklahoma residents. 

“We don’t have the deep pockets of UP, BNSF, and CPKC,” SLD Pense said. “We are pushing this 2PC bill by pounding the steps at the state House.”

Brother Pense took over as Oklahoma’s State SLD in 2020. He and his legislative board have been relentlessly knocking on office doors at the capitol building in Oklahoma City ever since. After four years, more of those doors are opening now than ever before.

This is not the first time 2PC has been introduced in Oklahoma. It is the first time this union has shown our bottom-up strength of member outreach in this state House. The results are in. You are being heard. Your messages and the cumulative gains made have put this year’s effort in a better position to become law than it has in years prior. Please continue the momentum!

Last week, your union put out a story discussing the 49 pieces of legislation that SMART was pushing in 17 states. As state legislatures are all hitting their stride in this year’s cycle around the country and focus on rail safety is as high as it has been in decades, these numbers are growing by the day.  

This week, we can report that the number of states we have bills in has reached 20, and the number of pieces of legislation we’re endorsing for passage has skyrocketed to 70 bills. 

These bills range from two-person crew (2PC) legislation, to train-length restrictions, to strengthening penalties on those who are convicted of assaulting bus drivers and commuter train employees to become felonies. All in all, it is safe to say that SMART Transportation Division members are getting a high return on investment out of their State Legislative Directors (SLDs) and National Legislative Department.  

Some of the bills are being advanced through state houses that haven’t seen a rail safety bill get past the committee level in decades. Momentum is with us and SMART-TD’s LRs and SLBs are seizing the moment.  

With 70 bills in front of 40% of our nation’s state legislative bodies, it is impossible to report on each bill’s individual progress every step of the way — that information is available on the Take Action page of the SMART website, but we will continue to compile weekly roundups of some of the highlights around the nation. If your state is mentioned, we ask that you follow the link to SMART-TD’s Legislative Action Center (LAC) and see how you can get involved in supporting your state’s bills. If your state is not on the list, please give our LAC a look anyway because there is a 40% chance that your state does have legislation in need of your support, even if it wasn’t mentioned in the article.  

Utah HB 63SLD Dan Brewer’s bill establishes the Office of Rail Safety in the state to regulate and inspect all aspects of rail safety and will be funded by the rail carriers who operate in Utah rather than taxpayers. HB 63 passed through both the House of Representatives and the State Senate and is pending a signature from the governor! 

Missouri SB 702SLD Jason Hayden’s train length bill limiting trains to 8,500 feet has been assigned to the Missouri Senate Transportation Committee. 

West Virginia HB 3059SLD Bryan Goodson’s blocked crossings bill made it out of the state House and has been sent to the Senate. 

Oklahoma SB 257SLD Kyle Pense’s 2PC bill has been assigned to the transportation and infrastructure committee in the Senate. 

Arizona HB 2526SLD Scott Jones’ bill to mandate heightened oversight and inspection of rail and equipment is ready to go in the House of Representatives.