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Governor Tim Walz (front row, blue tie) was the guest of honor at the Minnesota SLB quadrennial meeting in 2023. He recently named Chairman Joel Mueller (front row, center) to the governor’s Freight Rail Council.

Minnesota lawmakers adopted two pieces of legislation during this year’s session that are favorable to railroad workers, thanks in part to the efforts of the BLET’s Minnesota State Legislative Board and its Chairman, Joel Mueller.

The first is an Executive Order from the Walz administration that adds two seats for rail labor to the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Freight Rail. The Council is tasked with advising the Governor on all issues related to freight rail, including safety. Governor Tim Walz then appointed Brother Mueller to a seat on the Council. “The BLET will now have a voice for safety when the Minnesota Governor seeks advice from the Minnesota Freight Rail Council,” Brother Mueller said.

The second legislative victory improves existing state law when it comes to regulating contract railroad crew haulers. “BLET members have been frustrated as the rail carriers have forced our members, often under the threat of discipline, to ride in unsafe vehicles while in deadhead transportation,” Brother Mueller said. State Statute 221.0255 (Motor Carriers of Railroad Employees) was amended to protect BLET members by doubling certain liability requirements that railroads are required to carry. The stricter statute also allows the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is tasked with enforcement, to levy penalties of up to $5,000 against railroads for violations.

Brother Mueller’s notice of appointment from Governor Walz can be viewed here.