Ohio State Legislative Director Stuart Gardner reports that we need some activism to push H.B. 186, which is comprehensive railroad safety legislation, over the line and out of the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.
First, he is seeking photos of example of good and poor lighting conditions in yards to submit to state representatives in regards to H.B. 186. Please email those to: smartunionoslb@gmail.com.
Also, after five hearings on the bill, some Republican representatives on the committee remain undecided about the need for this legislation, especially after carrier testimony claimed that it would hinder their ability to operate and be too costly to them to improve yard lighting and walkway safety.
Gardner requests that members contact their county commissioners and explain to them why their state representative needs to support this bill.
H.B. 186 deals with:

  • Blocked crossings
  • Two-person crews
  • Yard lighting
  • Yard walkway safety

“Anything that is worth saving takes effort from everyone involved,” Gardner said. “It’s all hands on deck, battle stations. Take a stand, and be heard!”
The bill was first heard by the committee in September, and SMART-TD members as well as members from the BLET have stated the case for the bill on a number of occasions.
But now, state representatives Doug Green, James Hoops, Don Jones, Jeffrey LaRe, Susan Manchester, Gayle Manning, Riordan McClain, Tom Patton and Reggie Stoltzfus need to hear it from someone in addition to rail workers, who already know how important this issue is.
Those people are the county commissioners from 22 different Ohio counties.
“The topic that should really resonate with these county commissioners is the blocked crossing issue,” Gardner said. “With these crossings being blocked by the carriers by longer and longer trains, it prevents public service vehicles — police, fire and EMS from reaching their destinations in a timely manner, without any additional delay, a delay that may have deadly consequences for those that need the help.
“Now is the time for all of us exercise our collective strength,” he said. “Please ask those county commissioners to encourage the representative in their district to support H.B. 186. This is a common-sense approach to railroad safety, that we need their support with.”
The list of commissioners is available here.

State Legislative Director Stu Gardner reports that an additional round of testimony has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square in Columbus, regarding H.B. 186, a comprehensive railroad safety bill under consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.
Only proponents of the bill who have not given testimony previously are eligible to state their case for this important legislation that will protect lives and preserve the safety of railroad operations in Ohio.
“Testimony is to be given by those persons (or groups) that have not testified on H.B. 186 previously,” Gardner said. “I am requesting that if you have not given testimony previously, or wish to add new testimony that you have not given before on H.B. 186, now is the time to do so.”
Gardner, rail safety legal expert Larry Mann, members of the Ohio State Legislative Board, SMART-TD members and representatives from the BLET have provided testimony in favor of this legislation, which covers the following safety issues:

  • Two-person freight train crews
  • Proper walkways in railroad yard safety legislation
  • Railroad yard lighting safety legislation
  • Blocked crossings

In an email to members, Gardner indicated that the rail carriers requested a fifth hearing (Ohio bills typically receive three committee hearings before being voted upon for advancement to the full state House) due to Mann’s strong proponent testimony delivered Nov. 19.
However, more TD members and others concerned about railroad safety need to step up and be heard, and this fifth hearing could be the last chance to convince representatives that H.B. 186 deserves passage.
“It is up to all of our advocates of the Ohio State Legislative Board and the SMART Transportation Division to step up and let these committee members hear the truth one more time,” Gardner said. “Please come and fill the hearing room, give testimony and show these representatives what we are made of.”
The bill is sponsored by Ohio Reps. Mike Sheehy, a retired rail worker and member of the SMART TD Alumni Association, and Brent Hillyer.
Proponent testimony must be provided to Matthew Taylor in Committee Chairman Doug Green’s office (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.) with the deadline for electronic submission of both written and in-person testimony and a witness slip being 3 p.m. Dec. 9, the Monday before the hearing. On the day of the hearing, witnesses have the option of presenting their testimony in person before the committee if they have submitted the testimony and required witness slip by the deadline.
Instructions for those wishing to testify before the committee:
Prior to committee:

  • The House Transportation and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday mornings at 11 a.m. in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
  • Testimony is to be electronically submitted to the chairman’s office by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.
  • A witness slip (fillable PDF) is to be completed prior to the committee meeting and should also be submitted electronically to the chairman’s office.
  • Testimony and the witness slip can be submitted at the same time and there is no need to send multiple emails.
  • Materials may be submitted to Matthew Taylor in Green’s Office at (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.)

Day of committee:

  • Folks may arrive any time before the committee hearing begins.
  • There is no need to check in with staff so long as testimony was submitted properly.
  • Attendees may take a seat in the audience.
  • As committee begins, the chairman will announce the hearing of bills. As testimony begins on H.B. 186, the chairman will call each individual up by the name submitted on the witness slip.
  • After testimony has been given, the individual may remain in the committee room for the duration of the hearing.

Instructions for those wishing to submit written-only testimony:

  • Written-only testimony is for those who may not be able to attend the committee hearing to testify in person, or for those who may want to attend committee but do not wish to verbally testify.

Written-only testimony:

  • Testimony is to be electronically submitted to the Chairman’s Office by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, the day before the scheduled hearing.
  • The witness slip is to be completed prior to the committee hearing and should also be submitted electronically to the Chairman’s Office.
  • Testimony and the witness slip can be submitted at the same time, and there is no need to send multiple emails.
  • Materials may be submitted to Matthew Taylor in Chairman Doug Green’s Office at (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.)

State Legislative Director Stu Gardner said that a hearing for opponents of H.B. 186 to appear before the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee has been scheduled.
Opponents are scheduled to give testimony at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 in Ohio Statehouse Room 114 in Columbus.
The opponent hearing before the committee was delayed at carriers’ request so that the carriers could bring in representatives from Washington, D.C., to testify and try to stop the bill’s passage, Gardner reports.
“We need a group of our supporters to attend this hearing in order to show the committee members we believe in all phases of HB 186,” Gardner said. “Let’s fill that hearing room with our activism and presence.”
H.B. 186 covers the following safety issues:

  • Two-person freight train crews
  • Proper walkways in railroad yard safety legislation
  • Railroad yard lighting safety legislation
  • Blocked crossings

Members representing SMART Transportation Division as well as representatives from the BLET provided more than two hours of proponent testimony last month to show state House Transportation and Public Safety committee members why the railroad safety legislation is deserving of their support.
Gardner suggests that Ohio members either call the offices or set up in-person meetings with members of the committee who are listed below.
Doug Green HD 66 (Mount Orab)
Phone: (614) 644-6034
Home Address: 708 S. High St., Mt. Orab, OH 45154
Vice Chairman:
Riordan T. McClain HD 87 (Upper Sandusky)
Phone: (614) 644-6265
Home Address: 469 N. 5th St., Upper Sandusky, OH 43351
Ranking Member:
Michael Sheehy HD 46 (Oregon)
Phone: (614) 466-1418
Home Address: 1129 Schmidlin Rd., Oregon, OH 43616
Juanita Brent HD 12 (Cleveland)
Phone: (614) 466-1408
Home Address: 16804 Glendale Ave., Cleveland, OH 44128
James M. Hoops HD 81 (Napoleon)
Phone: (614) 466-3760
Home Address: 195 Old Creek Dr., Napoleon, OH 43545
Stephanie Howse HD 11 (Cleveland)
Phone: (614) 466-1414
Home Address: 1220 Spring Rd., Cleveland, OH 44109
Don Jones HD 95 (Freeport)
Phone: (614) 644-8728
Home Address: 34755 Jones Rd., Freeport, OH 43973
Jeff LaRe HD 77 (Violet Twp.)
Phone: (614) 466-8100
Michele Lepore-Hagan HD 58 (Youngstown)
Phone: (614) 466-9435
Home Address: 562 Madera Ave., Youngstown, OH 44504
Susan Manchester HD 84 (Lakeview)
Phone: (614) 466-6344
(419) 303-2670
Home Address: 29249 St. Rt. 385, Lakeview, OH 43331
Gayle Manning HD 55 (North Ridgeville)
Phone: (614) 644-5076
Home Address: 9436 Foxboro Dr., North Ridgeville, OH 44039
Jessica Miranda, HD 28 (Forest Park)
Phone: (614) 466-8120
(513) 266-3937
Home Address: 11511 Oxfordshire Ln., Cincinnati, OH 45240
Michael J. O’Brien HD 64 (Warren)
Phone: (614) 466-5358
(330) 727-1097
Home Address: 1849 Edgewood St. NE, Warren, OH 44483
Thomas Patton HD 7 (Strongsville)
Phone: (614) 466-4895
Home Address: 17157 Rabbit Run Dr., Strongsville, OH 44136
Reggie Stoltzfus HD 50 (Minerva)
Phone: (614) 466-9078
(330) 936-6001
Home Address: 13789 Telpahak St SE, Minerva, OH 44657
The bill is sponsored by Ohio Reps. Mike Sheehy, a retired rail worker and member of the SMART TD Alumni Association, and Brent Hillyer.

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Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner requests that members from his state show their support for H.B. 186, a comprehensive rail safety bill that is receiving its first hearing in the Ohio Legislature on Tuesday, June 18.
Ohio Reps. Brent Hillyer and Michael Sheehy, who is a retired SMART TD member and a member of the TD Alumni Association, will introduce the bill at 11 a.m. to the House Transportation Committee in Room 114 at the statehouse in Columbus.
The bill covers:

  1. Two-person freight train crews
  2. Common-sense safe walkways within rail yards
  3. Common-sense illumination of rail yards
  4. Blocked crossings that obstruct and delays emergency vehicles

“An overwhelming show of support is our goal,” Gardner said. “Show those members of the Transportation Committee that we care and are serious about our safety, and the safety of the communities the we work in and pass through.”

Working in a rail yard puts life, limbs and career at risk more than any other job.

 Members attending UTU regional meetings in San Antonio and New York have access to a yard-safety workshop – conducted in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration’s risk-reduction team.

 Attendees will gain more from this workshop if they first review a portion of a recent FRA report prepared by the Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) working group.

To read Chapter 3 of that report:

  •  Go to www.utu.org
  • Place your cursor on “Safety” in the drop-down menu above, and then left-click  on “Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis”
  •  Left-click on the SOFA logo.
  •  Left-click on the first link, “Findings and Advisories of the SOFA Working Group Volume I.”
  •  Scroll to Chapter Three, “Switching Fatalities – Understanding and Prevention,” which begins at page 13.

 “This chapter will give you a good introduction to the entire report and a basic understanding of the report before you attend one of the SOFA workshops,” says UTU Louisiana State Legislative Director Gary Devall, who is one of the UTU’s representatives on the SOFA working group along with Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy and Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo.

 Also to be found on the page where the SOFA logo appears, is the first quarter 2011 SOFA update.

 All UTU members working in rail yards also are urged to review the following message on yard safety: