Legislative Representative Jordan Boone of Local 445 (Niota, Ill.) reports that National Legislative Director Greg Hynes will be speaking Sunday at a rally in support of the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1748/S.1979) national two-person crew legislation.
The rally is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. local time at the Keokuk Labor Temple at 301 Blondeau St. in Keokuk, IA 52636. Members from the region are invited to attend to show their support for the legislation.
Representatives of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen also are expected to be in attendance to speak as are politicians including Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Iowa. Rep. Jeff Kurtz and Iowa House candidate Emiliano Vera.
Sanders is expected to publicly endorse S.1979 during an event at the Keokuk school complex, 2001 Orleans Ave., Keokuk, 52636, to take place at 12:30 p.m. local time.
H.R. 1748 currently has 133 co-sponsors while the Senate version of the bill has 15.
Two-person crew legislation endorsed by our union progressed ahead in two state legislatures late last week.
In Illinois, S.B. 24 was passed by the state Senate by a party-line 36-19 vote on Thursday. The state House of Representatives’ Rules Committee has received the bill, which establishes a minimum crew size of two individuals, and will consider it. The bill’s primary sponsor in the Illinois House is state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D – Dist. 113).
“Thanks to everyone who contacted their state senator, this couldn’t have been done without you,” The Illinois State Legislative Board said in a post on its Facebook page. “The General Assembly will now go on a two-week holiday break so please be ready to reach out to your State Representatives in their district offices.”
A two-person crew bill also has been passed in Maryland and awaits the action of Gov. Larry Hogan.
Nationally, the Safe Freight Act two-person crew bill introduced in the U.S. House (H.R. 1748) by U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska continues to gain sponsors through the vocal support of SMART Transportation Division members and retirees alike, the national legislative office in Washington reports.
National Legislative Director John Risch said that more than 1,500 messages from members and retirees have been sent to members of the House in support of the Safe Freight Act and the bill has been gaining co-sponsors.
“Hearing from their voters goes a long way to opening the door to our message in the halls of Congress,” Risch said. “This is a team effort, so keep up the emails and phone calls.”
Two legislative priorities gained support in early October.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas (Dist. 30) is the latest legislator to sign up to support H.R. 6016 — the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act, which was introduced over the summer.
The bill requires transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents, and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.
It has gained 50 Democratic and three Republican co-sponsors since its June introduction by U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (Dist. 32 – Calif.) in the U.S. House. A companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 3215) has two Democratic co-sponsors.
S. 2360 — The Safe Freight Act requiring a minimum of two-person crews on freight trains in the United States — also gained a new co-sponsor in early October in Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
The addition of Merkley brings the total number of co-sponsors of the bill, which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota early this year, to 13. All of the co-sponsors are Democrats with the exception of independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine.
The House version of the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 233), which was introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska, has 119 bipartisan co-sponsors at last count.
The Railroad Yardmaster Protection Act (H.R. 3148), introduced by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D) of Minnesota, gained a pair of new co-sponsors in late September, with Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill. – Dist. 13) and Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn. – Dist. 7) signing on to sponsor the bill. That bill now has 23 bipartisan cosponsors.
A new survey reaffirms support for expanding passenger rail service in Iowa.
More than half the participants — 56 percent — in a survey conducted by the SMART Transportation Division said passenger rail service in Iowa should increase. Another 77 percent said Amtrak should add service from Des Moines to Chicago, a concept that once had steam but has stagnated for several years due to lack of funding.