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Virginia State Senator Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (center, maroon), the Chief Patron of SB 143, with the BLET’s Herb Harris (green tie) and Tim Craver (far right) and fellow supporters of the rail safety bill.

In a follow up to a recent Legislative Update, Virginia State Legislative Board Chairman Tim Craver reports that the rail safety bill in his state continues to advance. Senate Bill No. 143 was passed by the Committee on Commerce and Labor by a 9-6 vote on January 29, while House Bill No. 385 advanced out of a subcommittee hearing by a vote of 6-4 on January 30.

Craver said more than 180 railroaders submitted comments in favor of HB 385, a high number given that state house bills typically average 20 comments in Virginia. Craver said he worked with his counterpart at SMART-TD as well as Brother Brian Peyton, President of Teamsters Local 322 and Political Coordinator of Joint Council 83, to help generate the high level of support. Brother Herb Harris, BLET Washington D.C. Legislative Board Chairmen, also helped lobby in favor of the legislation. Craver said the next major hurdle will come when HB 385 goes before a full committee vote. That has not been scheduled yet.

In Iowa, BLET State Legislative Board Chairman Mike Walker is lobbying for Senate File 512, a safety bill that would require railroads to install train defect detectors along their branch lines. The legislation is in response to the merger of Kansas City Southern and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which has greatly increased rail traffic in several Eastern Iowa communities. Citizens are concerned over the traffic increase, especially in light of the East Palestine derailment in Ohio in 2023. Brother Walker told legislators the detectors are important because they help keep train crews safe, and can help prevent derailments like the one in East Palestine, Ohio.