Last month, I had the pleasure of announcing that the Maryland General Assembly passed HB-180, a bill to require a minimum of two-person crews on all freight trains operating within the state of Maryland, awaiting final action by Governor Larry Hogan.
Just before the Memorial Day weekend, Governor Hogan VETOED HB 180. While the two-person crew bill passed by wide majorities in both legislative chambers, this veto is another wrong step against public safety and another clear indication that 'Elections Have Consequences'.
“This legislation has been introduced the last three years in the General Assembly. In 2016 it passed the Senate, in 2017 it passed the House of Delegates and in 2018 passed both chambers of the General Assembly with a bi-partisan and overwhelming majority vote. In addition, the legislation has over 80% support of the general public and yet this Governor chooses to side with big business over the safety of workers, safety of the public and protection of the environment. We will not be deterred by his unjustified actions and will go forward with the legislation again in 2019, hopefully with a new governor that will not stand against the vast majority of Marylanders.” – Larry Kasecamp, SMART-TD Maryland State Legislative Director.
Unfortunately, Maryland's Republican Governor is not the first to VETO two-person crew legislation. In June of 2017, Republican Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada also VETOED a two-person crew bill despite the overwhelming support from the state legislature. These VETOES follow the most recent two-person crew legislation signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown back in October of 2015.
We will continue to push for two-person crews in every state. With Governor elections in both Nevada and Maryland, we will work our utmost to help elect governors who support SMART-TD members and the safety of their jobs. Despite this temporary setback, now is the time to take direct action and get involved. In fact, there are things you can do today to change our future:
- Vote in the next election. In 2016, we had 71% of members vote. This should be our floor for every upcoming election at all levels: city, state or federal.
- Make sure everyone in your family is registered to vote. You can visit SMART-TD's Legislative Action Centerfor applications and state deadlines. Most states now have on-line voter registration.
- And support candidates that support two-person crew legislation. We are keeping track of candidates running for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and Governors on where they stand with two-person crew legislation. Look to future updates on where your candidates stand.
Working together, we will make our industry safer while keeping our future secure. Keep the faith because I certainly am!
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division