Ohio rail safety bill scheduled for hearing; testimony needed

Published: September 4, 2019

State Legislative Director Stu Gardner reports that proponent testimony has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 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.

“This is the SMART TD and BLET members, friends and concerned citizens’ opportunity to let the House Transportation and Safety committee know and understand the reasons why HB 186 – a comprehensive railroad safety bill — is important to us and the communities that our trains pass through, and where those railroad yards are located throughout the state of Ohio,” Gardner said.

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

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 witness slip being 3 p.m. Sept. 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.

Gardner said that he plans to be at the Statehouse at 9 a.m. the day of the hearing.

“My hope is we have a large turnout (even if you are not giving testimony) to demonstrate our solidarity on these important rail safety issues,” he said.

If the volume of testimony warrants, Gardner said that subsequent committee hearings could be scheduled for the legislation so that all witnesses are heard.

“Please advocate and give testimony in support of H.B. 186,” Gardner said. “Thank you for your support.”

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.
    • The committee notice typically goes out on Friday afternoon. The notice will confirm that H.B. 186 is up for a hearing and when and where the committee will convene.
    • The Ohio SLB will work with the chairman’s office and our policy team to get as much of an advanced notice as possible
  • 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 Chairman Doug Green’s Office at (Matthew.Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.)

Day of committee:

  • When the committee notice is distributed, SLD Gardner will make sure to relay the information and will draw attention to any changes that have been made to the committee’s location and start time.
  • 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.)