May 10, 2013
SPRINGFIELD (May 10)—House Bill 3255—the so-called “parade bill” that empowers city officials to bar parades from using portions of routes that cross railroad tracks at grade—was approved unanimously by the Senate Transportation Committee this week and sent to the Senate floor for a vote.
UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy is asking all members to phone their state senators and ask for a “Yes” vote when the bill comes to the floor.
The vote could come as early as next week, Guy said.
“Our union introduced this legislation to make sure that train crews in Illinois never have to deal with a tragedy like the one in Midland, Tex., last year,” he said. “A Union Pacific freight train struck a parade float as it attempted to cross the tracks near the city’s downtown, killing four veterans of the Iraq campaign. We can’t let that happen here.”
House Bill 3255 passed the Illinois House unanimously April 10 after UTU members phoned their state representatives and asked for their votes. Guy said the same member outreach can work in the Senate.
“If you don’t know the name of your state senator, just use the ‘Legislator Lookup’ feature on the left side of the UTU Web page at www.illini.utu.org,” he said. “If you input your address and ZIP code you’ll see the name of your state senator and the office phone number.”
Guy said calls to senators should be kept short and should be limited to one subject—a request that the senator vote “Yes” when HB 3255 is called for a vote.
“Be sure to tell the person who answers the phone that you’re a member of the United Transportation Union and that you’d like to ask the senator to vote ‘Yes’ when HB 3255 comes up for a vote,” he said. “Tell them your name and the name of the community where you live. They’ll know what you’re talking about, and they’ll be happy to hear from you.”
Guy advised members not to be bashful about taking up a legislator’s time.
“Legislators like to stay in touch with their constituents,” he said. “They want to know what you’re concerned about. That’s how they get re-elected—by listening carefully to the voters.”
And legislators take the UTU particularly seriously, he said.
“They know we’re well organized and that we take reasonable positions on the issues,” he said. “Years of patient work by the Illinois Legislative Board in Springfield have convinced most members of the Illinois General Assembly that the UTU is non-ideological and is concerned primarily with the health, safety and general welfare of its members and the public.
“We have won their trust. Now let’s put it to use. Call your state senator and ask for a ‘Yes’ vote on HB 3255.”