April 17, 2008

SPRINGFIELD (April 17)—House Bill 5159, which would provide independent and objective oversight over the state’s railroad police forces, was approved by the House Rail Industry Committee late Wednesday night and sent to the House floor for action.

The House now begins a week-long break that will give UTU members in Illinois an excellent chance to contact their representative and ask for their support of H.B. 5159.

“We have a real opportunity for our members to reach out to their state reps,” said UTU Assistant Illinois Legislative Director Bob Guy: “ The reps will be back in their home districts, so our members and their families can contact them with a phone call, and because the House is in recess, the window of opportunity for reaching out adds up to more than a week.”

Members can even drop in and meet with their representatives personally, something Guy recommends.

“They’re politicians,” he said. “They thrive on personal contact and they enjoy and appreciate the chance to visit with their constituents personally. If you have the time, think of dropping in at your rep’s district office.”

Guy recommends keeping calls and visits short and sticking with one simple message, “Vote yes on H.B. 5159”.

If you don’t know the name, phone number or district office address of your state representative, just use the search feature on the Illinois Legislative Board home page. Scroll down the left-hand column to “Links to Useful Web Sites” and click on “Legislator Lookup.” Enter your street address and ZIP Code and you’ll see a list of everyone who represents you in state government. The third name listed will be your state representative. If you go to that individual’s Web site you can find the district office phone number and street address.

“Some state legislators may not even realize that railroads have their own police forces with the same powers as municipal police,” Guy said. “A call or visit about H.B. 5159 is a quick and easy way to remind your rep that railroad police need the same objective oversight that other police forces already have.

“State legislators respect the UTU and value the input that our members give them” Guy said. “Don’t let this opportunity pass. Make those calls and visits while the members are back in their districts.”