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 63 – SLD 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 702 – SLD Jason Hayden’s train length bill limiting trains to 8,500 feet has been assigned to the Missouri Senate Transportation Committee.
West Virginia HB 3059 – SLD Bryan Goodson’s blocked crossings bill made it out of the state House and has been sent to the Senate.
Oklahoma SB 257 – SLD Kyle Pense’s 2PC bill has been assigned to the transportation and infrastructure committee in the Senate.
Arizona HB 2526 – SLD Scott Jones’ bill to mandate heightened oversight and inspection of rail and equipment is ready to go in the House of Representatives.