On March 21, 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation into law that requires that all freight trains in the state are operated by a crew of at least two individuals.
The signing of H.B. 1034 caps a massive effort by SMART Transportation Division members that spanned years in the face of carrier opposition.
“It was a long haul and took a lot of time and energy on the part of many, many people,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said. “Our concerted efforts did pay off, and it will ensure that the state’s railways stay safe with two crew members in each freight train’s cab.”
Smith and the Colorado State Legislative Board had an earlier two-person crew bill die in the state Senate in 2016, but tenaciously renewed their efforts early this year by gathering a broad group of supporters that included members from the six TD locals in the state, retirees, the Colorado AFL-CIO, Colorado Professional Firefighters, Conservation Colorado and American Federation of Teachers.
H.B. 1034 was first introduced by state Reps. Tom Sullivan and Daneya Esgar on Jan. 4, passed committee and was initially passed, 39-23, on Feb. 5 by the full House. State Sen. Jessie Danielson was the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, where it passed, 19-15, on Feb. 25 after amendment. The House passed the amended bill again March 4 by an identical 39-23 vote, putting the bill on Polis’ desk.
“Without these legislators’ understanding of the importance of this issue to the safety of our state’s railways, this would not have been possible,” Smith said.
Also helping the cause was strong public recognition by Colorado residents and legislators that train crew size is a safety-oriented issue.
On Jan. 9, the Colorado State Legislative Board released the results of a survey that showed strong support among Coloradans for a law requiring two-person crews. The survey, conducted Jan. 2 – Jan. 5, asked 550 random Colorado residents older than 18, using both cell phones and landlines, about issues centered around railroad safety. The results showed that 77 percent of Coloradans said that, given the chance, they would vote in favor of a two-person crew law.
A website (www.corailsafe.com) established by the state legislative board and a coalition of TD members and members of other unions also assisted in spreading understanding about the importance of the two-person legislation in Colorado, which joins Arizona, California, West Virginia and Wisconsin as states that have legislation requiring two people to operate freight trains.
“I am very pleased that Colorado has adopted this sensible requirement,” SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch said. ”This is a matter of public safety, plain and simple. Freight railroad operations are complex and often entail the transport of highly hazardous materials; two crew members are vital to ensuring that these trains are operated safely and that our communities are secure.”
The Colorado law takes effect July 1.
Two-person freight crew safety legislation is one step closer to becoming law in Colorado with the state Senate’s passage of House Bill 1034 (H.B. 1034).
After its 19-15 passage on Feb. 25 in the Senate, the bill is on the desk of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis for consideration after a successful March 4 reconciliation vote in the House.
Polis has three options — signing the bill to make it state law, vetoing the bill or not signing the bill. If he chooses not to sign the bill, it will then become law after 10 days of inaction.
“We need to let the governor know that this is a grassroots effort with the safety of the public in mind,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said.
Through the process, members in the state, as well as their families and friends, have been instrumental in supporting the efforts of the Colorado State Legislative Board to get the two-person crew bill through the Legislature and onto the governor’s desk.
Help is needed one more time for that final push. Members, their families and friends in Colorado all can voice their support for the legislation by following the link below:
Show your support for the Colorado two-person crew bill.
Smith said that he is optimistic that Polis, who as a U.S. representative was a co-sponsor of the 2017 Safe Freight Act legislation, will support the bill once he hears from SMART members, their families and anyone else in the state who is concerned about rail safety.
H.B. 1034 first passed the Colorado House on Feb. 5 by a 39-23 vote.
The state of Colorado is one step closer to having a two-person crew law on the books. After a third reading of House Bill 1034 (HB19-1034), a vote was taken on the house floor Feb. 5, and the bill passed with a vote of 39 – 23.
“We are glad the Colorado House of Representatives care about railroad worker safety and community safety for the citizens of the state,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said. “We are confident that the state Senate will hold the same beliefs.”
On Jan. 9, the Colorado State Legislative Board released the results of a survey conducted by DFM Research on behalf of SMART TD showing that Coloradans held strong support for two-person crews. The survey, conducted Jan. 2 – 5, 2019, asked 550 random Colorado residents about issues centered on railroad safety. The results showed that 77 percent of Coloradans said that they would vote in favor of two-person crews if given the chance.
Click here to follow the progress of HB19-1034.
SMART Transportation Division Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith reports that efforts by some state legislators to advance a Right to Work For Less bill were stopped in committee.
By a 6-3 vote, members of the state House’s Colorado House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee voted to postpone the bill indefinitely, effectively killing it.
It was the second time in two years that politicians in Colorado tried to undermine the right to union representation in that state, Smith said.
He said that many SMART members from both TD and sheet metal sides turned out Jan. 24 in Denver to have their voices heard by legislators.
The bill, this time known as HB18-1030 “Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation,” was primarily sponsored by state Rep. Justin Everett and state Sen. Tim Neville, both Republicans.
Ten additional representatives and two additional senators also were signed on as sponsors of HB18-1030. The representatives were Perry Buck, Stephen Humphrey, Timothy Leonard, Kimmi Lewis, Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Lori Saine, Kevin Van Winkle, Dave Williams and Cole Wist.
The senators were Chris Holbert and Vicki Marble.
SMART TD members in Colorado are encouraged to vote accordingly the next time they see these politicians’ names listed on the ballot.
Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith reports that the Colorado House of Representatives’ Transportation and Energy Committee will hear public testimony on House Bill 1136 (H.B. 1136). H.B. 1136 is the state’s two-person crew bill for freight trains operating within the state. The hearing will be held Thursday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. at the Colorado State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax, Denver, CO, in room 0112. “Members are encouraged to attend the hearing and show their support for this important safety bill,” Smith said. “Colorado residents can use corailsafe.com to contact their state legislators and encourage them to support H.B. 1136 for safety.”