Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs reports that H.B. 440, the two-person freight crew bill that has passed the state House, is scheduled for a hearing Monday, February 17, at the state Capitol.
“We’re asking all of our Virginia members and their families to spend the day to get the word out,” Hobbs said. “Now is the time for us to show our state senators the importance of this public safety matter.”
Virginia’s House of Delegates on Wednesday passed H.B. 440, a two-person freight crew bill, by a 61-37 vote, with one delegate abstaining.
The bill now moves on to the state’s Senate.
“We’ve hit third base,” SMART TD Virginia Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs said. “It’s going to take some work from all of us, but we’re getting to work to bring it home to the Governor’s desk.”
Supporters of the Virginia two-person crew bill, H.B. 440, fill the House chamber on Jan. 22 to show their support for the legislation in this photo courtesy of Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs.
There was a strong show of support in the state Capitol for the bill by members from both the Sheet Metal and TD sides. After the passage was announced by House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, cheers from supporters filled the chamber.
H.B. 440 levies fines on freight carriers who do not operate with two crew members in the cab with exceptions for hostler or yard service.
Hobbs said the effort that got the bill through the House will need to be sustained and more support from members will be needed as work continues in the state Senate.
“We had a great turnout and filled the chamber,” Hobbs said. “There has been great effort from members and retirees who have been reaching out to officials and letting them know about how two people are needed on the crew. If we keep this up, the bill will pass.”
Hobbs said that he will keep members informed as the bill progresses and thanks everyone for their strong support. Contact Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how to show your support.
H.B. 440, which was introduced by Delegate Steve E. Heretick of District 79, passed the House’s Committee on Rail and Commerce Jan. 16 by a 13-8 vote.
Virginia’s full House of Delegates soon will be considering H.B. 440, a two-person freight crew bill, after it passed the body’s Committee on Commerce and Labor Jan. 16 by a 13-8 vote.
“This is a big win — a huge win today,” said Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs, who said that prior attempts at passage never made it past the subcommittee level. “Now, we’ve got to get ready for the House hearing.”
Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs delivers testimony in favor of H.B. 440, a two-person freight crew bill, on Thursday, Jan. 16. The bill passed through committee by a 13-8 vote.
Hobbs said a number of members and Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity were there at the hearing to show that they backed the bill, which establishes fines for freight carriers who do not operate with two crew members in the cab with exceptions for hostler or yard service.
That support will need to be sustained and more support from members will be needed as the effort continues to get passage of the bill, which was introduced by Delegate Steve E. Heretick of District 79.
“As Jared said, we need to fill the mezzanine when the bill comes up in the House,” Hobbs said. “They need to see our members.”
Hobbs said that the result in Virginia shows that elections do have consequences — control of the House changed in November, and candidates who are more supportive of rail safety efforts were elected to office.
Hobbs said that he will keep members informed as the bill progresses and thanks everyone for their strong support.
“We’re rounding second and heading to third base,” he said.
Contact Hobbs at email@example.com for more details on how to show your support.
Video of testimony from the hearing appears below.
A two-person crew bill is headed to the Virginia House of Delegates’ Commerce and Labor Committee and SMART-TD members in the region are asked to come show their support for the legislation.
H.B. 440 is scheduled for a first hearing in the House Committee Room in the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 16, in the state Capitol Building, 1000 Bank St., in Richmond, Va. The time that the bill will be discussed is undetermined as the committee meeting begins a half-hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates’ regular session that day.
The bill has been introduced by Delegate Steve E. Heretick of District 79 and establishes fines for freight carriers who do not operate with two crew members in the cab with exceptions for hostler or yard service.
“We’d never gotten it out of the subcommittee before,” Virginia State Legislative Director Ronnie Hobbs said. “Now it has gone straight to committee.”
A great show of support from union members in the state will help to show the legislators that this legislation matters for the safety of both rail workers and for the public.
“I’d love to fill the room with railroad folks,” Hobbs said.
For more details on how to meet and show support, contact Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UTU Virginia State Legislative Director Walter W. Yeatts (UTU Local 971, Crewe, Va.) died unexpectedly Sunday, May 20. He had celebrated his 51st birthday May 12 and was a UTU member for more than 30 years, including service on Norfolk Southern and predecessor Norfolk & Western Railway.
He is survived by his wife, Hardy; sons Whit and Jonathan; daughter Jennifer, and grandson, Caleb.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Shriners Children’s Hospital, 950 West Faris Rd., Greenville, S.C. 29605, or a charity of one’s choice.
“We have all lost a brother, a good friend and a most effective state legislative director,” said UTU National Legislative Director James Stem.