Additional proponent hearing added as Ohio rail safety bill is considered

Published: November 8, 2019

Rail safety legal expert Larry Mann is scheduled to provide additional proponent testimony regarding H.B. 186 before the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

The hearing is scheduled 11 a.m. Nov. 19 in the Ohio Statehouse Room 114 in Columbus.

Following testimony provided by the bill’s opponents on Oct. 22 in which they argued that it was futile for the state to consider passage of H.B. 186 because of pending legal challenges to legislation in Illinois and Nevada, the Ohio State Legislative Board coordinated a campaign to convince bill co-sponsors Reps. Brett Hillyer and Mike Sheehy, as well as committee Chairman Doug Green and House Speaker Larry Householder, to grant an additional hearing.

“We believed that an additional hearing for expert proponent testimony was needed in order to set the record straight,” Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner said. “This additional testimony is solely at the discretion of the Transportation Committee Chairman Doug Green to allow (the bill) to go forward or not.”

Mann has served as the SMART TD Designated Legal Counsel’s rail safety coordinator since the position was created in 2008 and has extensive legal experience in the transportation industry, including being the principal draftsman of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970.

“Larry is the foremost rail safety expert in the United States,” Gardner said. “He has dealt with the issue of preemption raised by the railroads for many years. He will counter the statements raised by the railroads in their recent opponent testimony concerning legislation covering two-person crews, blocked crossing, walkways and yard illumination.”

Gardner requests that SMART TD members and railroad workers fill the committee’s room in Columbus for a third time at 11 a.m. Nov. 19.

“Once again, (let’s) show our solidarity on HB 186, and our concerns over our safety, and the safety of the communities that our trains pass through and where the yards that we work in are located. Demonstrate our resolve to those Transportation & Safety Committee members that will ultimately decide to pass this legislation out of committee, and forward to the House,” he said.