May 13, 2015

Springfield (May 14)–House Bill 439, which would raise the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on railroad crew members riding in contract-carrier vehicles, passed the State Senate by a 51-0 vote.

The measure, which already passed the Illinois House on April 14 by a 108-4 vote, will now go to the Governor for his signing. With the Governor’s signature the measure will take effect on January 1, 2016 and would increase minimum coverage for passengers riding in a contract-carrier vehicle from the current $250,000 to $500,000, with another incremental increase to $750,000 to take effect in 2020.

“That’s triple the coverage and protection for our members in just a matter of a few years,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “We are very proud to have introduced this legislation, just as we were proud to have introduced and passed the original legislation a decade ago that established the minimum coverage.”

Guy said the new language will cover any railroad employee riding in a contract-crrier van.

“This legislation protects not only SMART-TD members but those of other railroad crafts as well when they are riding in contract-carrier vehicles,” he said. “While SMART-TD took the lead on driving this legislation, we’re happy to share its benefits with our brothers and sisters in other unions.”

Guy said the bill’s swift passage and large bi-partisan majorities testify to the effectiveness of SMART-TD’s legislative skills and experience.

“HB 439 had widespread, bi-partisan support,” he said. “That doesn’t happen without proper communication with legislative staff and key legislative leaders and the experience to know who those important folks are.”

Guy attributed the bill’s strong support to SMART-TD’s experience in understanding how each individual legislator likes an issue to be presented–and then following up with personal-contact work.

“SMART-TD has a long-standing reputation in Springfield for introducing meaningful, substantive legislation that protects the health and safety of its members, which most legislators accept as valid, fair and reasonable,” Guy said. “But it still takes hard work and the knowledge of how to navigate the legislative process to pass legislation with this kind of bi-partisan support.”

SMART-TD also gets points for rallying its members to support its agenda, Guy said.

“When legislators hear from constituent members they understand that SMART-TD is organized and that ongoing two-way communication is in effect between members and officers,” Guy said.