Ohio SLB gives update on rail safety legislation

Published: July 8, 2019

SMART TD’s Ohio State Legislative Board has given an update on H.B. 186 — a comprehensive rail safety bill that addresses two-person crews, safe walkways, rail yard lighting and blocked crossings — that was introduced to the Ohio House Transportation Committee on June 18.

Ohio State Legislative Director Stu Gardner reports that the bill will be held over from the summer session to this fall where it will be given priority. Although the bill is static for now, Gardner asks Ohio members to offer proponent testimony as to why you believe the bill should be approved by the committee in preparation for this fall.

“Your testimony is what is needed to convince these committee members that this bill is what we have said all along it is – a common-sense approach to railroad safety,” Gardner said in an email to Ohio members.

Gardner suggests members write up testimony on all four segments of the bill or just on a specific segment. The four segments of the bill are:

  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 delay emergency vehicles

According to Gardner, there are two ways you can provide testimony to the committee. You may either do a written-only testimony or you may submit electronic written testimony prior to testifying before the committee at the next hearing. The House Transportation and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday mornings at 11 a.m. in House Hearing Room 114 in the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus unless otherwise notified. Below are instructions from Gardner for submitting your testimony in either fashion.

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 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 Taylor@ohiohouse.gov.