Posts Tagged ‘Ohio legislature’

Ohio House Committee Boosts Public Transit Funding

March 2, 2021

Gov. Mike DeWine’s efforts to slash funding of public transit failed to survive a markup session  by a House committee.

The House Finance Committee last week voted to provide $97 million annually for public transportation, a number far above the $7.3 million recommended by DeWine.

The funding approved by the committee includes $23.2 million in federal “flex” funding.

The previous state budget allocated $63 million for public transit funding.

The transportation budget is still subject to further work by the committee and still must be approved by the full House before it moves on to the Senate.

House Speaker Bob Cupp said the House plans to vote on the transportation budget this week.

State law requires the legislature to approve a transportation budget by March 31.

DeWine suffered two other defeats from the House committee when it voted to remove a proposed $10 increase in the state’s annual vehicle registration fee and removed a provision increasing penalties for drivers who use cell phones while driving.

The governor sought the increase in vehicle fees to raise an additional $127 million a year for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Committee members who opposed the increase said now is the wrong time to impose new costs on drivers.

DeWine has been pushing since February 2020 a proposal he called “Hands Free Ohio” to crack down on cell phone use while driving.

His original proposal failed to advance in the legislature in the last session so it was introduced as part of the transportation budget this year.

State Rep. Scott Oelslager (R-Canton), the chairman of the finance committee, cited precedent in removing the distracted driving provision.

He said legislators “generally try not to put anything dealing with criminal law” into state budget bills.

Cupp said the distracted driving measure will be introduced as a standalone bill later in the session.

Bill Will Help Airports Raise Money

January 4, 2021

Ohio lawmakers have approved legislation that is designed to enable the state’s airports to work with businesses to attract air service as well as improve airport facilities.

The legislation allows regional airport authorities, port authorities and municipal corporations to create an airport development district that can work with businesses within a five-mile radius to generate revenue for airport infrastructure and other expenses, including offering incentives to attract new airline service.

The legislation is seen as being particularly useful for the establishment of such districts surrounding Akron-Canton Airport, Akron Fulton Municipal Airport, Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, and Dayton International Airport.

Businesses will be permitted under the law to make contributions that can be paid in lump sums or as assessments on property.

However, those contributions will be voluntary. There is legal authority for a development district to impose a tax.

Akron-Canton Airport is expected to use revenue raised by a district to seek airline service.

The airport has lost flights in the past few years, including those operated by Southwest and Delta airlines.

In other instances, low fare carriers Frontier and Allegiant moved flights that had been serving  Akron-Canton to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Airport officials have said one of their more immediate goals is to try to get Delta to resume flying the route between Akron-Canton and Atlanta.

Delta suspended that route in May, citing steep passenger declines due to the CVOID-19 pandemic.

Bill Would Mandate 2-Person Crews in Ohio

June 28, 2019

An Ohio lawmaker has introduced legislation to require two people in locomotive crews.

The bill is currently before the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

HB 186 establishes penalties ranging from up to $1,000 for a first violation to as much as $10,000 for a third violation within three years of the first.

The bill would also require railroads to illuminate rail yards as outlined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and to construct walkways next to tracks wherever employees perform switching activities.

Trains would not be able to block grade crossings for emergency vehicles and violations would incur a fine of up to $5,000.

“Railroads are a very important part of commerce, but if you start thinking about what’s carried in a railcar, what kind of havoc that could wreak on your districts and your communities, I think it is a common sense solution to require a two-man train crew,” Rep. Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-District 98) told the committee.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was Michael Sheehy (D-District 46), who retired from CSX in 2012 after working for 40 years in the railroad industry, much of it as a conductor.

“Historically members of a freight railroad crew consisted of an engineer, a fireman, a conductor and two switchmen—a five-man crew,” Sheehy said. “With advances in technology, that crew size has been reduced to just a conductor and an engineer—a two-person crew.”

He noted that at least 10 states either have or are considering legislation requiring minimum two-person train crews.

Railway Age noted in a report about the legislation that the issue of crew size is largely a moot point because every Class 1 railroad has labor contracts requiring a two-person crew.

The Federal Railroad Administration recently ended a rule-making proceeding that would have mandated a two-person crew on every freight train.

Ohio Legislature Honors Toledo CSX Workers

March 27, 2014

The Ohio legislature recently honored CSX Toledo Terminal employees at Stanley Yard, Walbridge Yard, and the Toledo Docks on the occasion of Stanley Yard’s centennial birthday and the team’s impressive safety record.

Stanley Yard’s employees recently marked a two-year, injury-free milestone. Employees at the facility have participated in such community projects as the annual MS Society Bike to the Bay fundraiser, leading the way in team fundraising for the past two years.

In addition, Stanley employees were among the first to respond in the aftermath of a 2010 tornado that hit Lake Township. CSX volunteers donated time and resources toward the cleanup and rebuilding efforts in the weeks and months following the disaster.

“We have a great team at the Toledo Terminal, in both safety and service,” said Rob Burkett, terminal superintendent. “They are upholding the strong rail tradition in this part of the country on behalf of CSX, our customers, and our communities.”

Built by the Toledo & Ohio Central railroad, Stanley Yard has changed hands several times over the years with railroad mergers, from New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and finally CSX, which acquired it as part of its share of the Conrail acquisition in 1999.

Combined, the Toledo Terminal handles about 3,000 carloads of freight daily. Stanley Yard handles mostly mixed freight, Walbridge Yard moves predominantly auto freight, and the Toledo Docks handle vessel and rail transfers of coal and iron ore.

“It is an honor to salute the employees of Stanley Yard as they celebrate their centennial year. CSX has played an important role in our local economy for decades and we look forward to many more successes in the future,” said Rep. Tim Brown.