In the state House, our coalition of supporters includes 25 democrats and 12 republicans (well over 1/3 of the entire house), and in the state Senate, our sponsorship coalition includes 6 republicans and 5 democrats. These elected officials have all signed on as sponsors of one or more bills in our UTU/SMART legislative agenda.
This year when the legislature was meeting in Olympia, we significantly expanded our legislative efforts. At the request of UTU/SMART legislators introduced three major bills in Olympia with broad bi-partisan support:
- Rail Crew Transport Vehicle Safety Regulatory Legislation (HB 1620/SB 5720) – this bill is our # 1 priority, which would impose stringent state regulations over companies who contract with railroads to provide crew transport services. It passed the house unanimously as well as three senate committees; it was just one step from final passage when one senator who objected to it blocked it from getting a final vote on the senate floor. With your help we expect it to pass in law in 2014.
- A groundbreaking state Yardmasters Hours of Service Limits bill (HB 1621/ SB 5721) – this bill passed out of the House Labor Committee and was on the house floor calendar when a calendar deadline prevented a full house vote. We expect it to pass the house in the 2014 session.
- Wash. State Railroad operational and regulatory reform (SB 5722/HB 1845) – this bill has begun the discussion as to how the state currently regulates railroads – there are three state agencies plus twelve local governments that currently have a hand in railroad regulations and operations – we advocate that it should be consolidated into only one state agency as Oregon did in the 1990’s. We will continue to pursue this critical rail regulatory consolidation.
We have taken the lead and been instrumental and effective in fighting both politically and legally to block the development of a proposed sports arena in the SODO area of Seattle. If built at this location, this facility would decimate rail and port jobs in Seattle, having a domino effect on all rail jobs across the state.
The proposed building plans would begin construction across the street from the BNSF Stacy Street rail facilities, only a few feet from the AMTRAK service yards, and a short distance from UP Argo Yard; because industrial land is cheap.
Rail and port facilities must be protected at all costs; you’re UTU/SMART Wash. State Leg. Board has been leading the fight in this battle against developers, even pursing a lawsuit against the development. Our actions were instrumental in preventing international investors from acquiring the Sacramento Kings basketball team, slowing down the progress of this rail job killing arena proposal.