MISSOURI STATE LEGISLATIVE BOARD

DIRECTOR: KENNETH R. MENGES    Assistant Director: JASON R. HAYDEN                                            Chairman: Gerald Wohlgemuth    V. Chairman: Curt Jones    Secretary: Chris Skaggs                                                        



Right to Work to be brought up Tomorrow - 4/1/2014

Just yesterday, Jefferson City extremists ignored voter demands and passed Paycheck Deception through the Missouri House. Tomorrow they’re planning to bring a so-called “right to work” bill up for a vote. Will you make a quick phone call now to help stop these unfair bills?

There is overwhelming evidence that Paycheck Deception and Right to Work harm working families and the economy. But state lawmakers are now just one vote away from turning this dangerous bill into law.

Call your legislators right now and tell them to VOTE NO on HB1617 and HB1770 – “Right to Work” and paycheck deception.

Paycheck Deception and “Right to Work” would be a major step backward for working families. Not only would these laws attack free speech, but they would stifle job creation and make it easier for CEOs to ship Missouri jobs overseas, move more of our work into part-time positions and erode our health and safety laws.  


Don’t wait. Call now – there’s no time to lose.

In unity,

Mike Louis, Secretary Treasurer

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Call your State Reps - 4/1/2014


Friends,

We just received word that "Right to Work" will be voted on TOMORROW (Wednesday, April 2) in the Missouri House of Representatives.

We need your help. Please, contact your state representative - today - and tell them to vote NO on "Right to Work."

Tell your Representative that these laws being pushed by out-of-state corporate CEOs are bad for Missouri's working families: they'll lower wages and benefits at a time when the middle class is already struggling. 

Working together, we prevent Missouri from becoming a so-called "Right to Work" state. Take just a few minutes to help us stand up for Missouri's working families.

Thanks,

Protect MO Families Coalition 


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AMTRAK has record year despite challenges - 3/31/2014

The Birmingham (Ala.) News, March 30, 2014

 

 

 

Amtrak CEO to meet with local mayors, discuss train service's fiscal needs

By Mike D. Smith

 

 

 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman will visit with local mayors Monday as the passenger rail operator seeks a funding boost it says is necessary to maintain and improve its service.

Boardman will participate in two meetings Monday afternoon to discuss funding topics, one in Birmingham and another in Tuscaloosa.

Amtrak is asking Congress to fully fund operating and capital needs for its 15 long-distance routes such as the Amtrak Crescent, which links central Alabama with Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York and New Orleans.

Amtrak calls its long-distance routes "the backbone" of its national rail network, connecting cities and helping economic development.

"They are vital to the communities and people they serve, and increasingly important as airlines and bus companies abandon significant regions of America," Amtrak officials said in a statement.

 

 Investment changes sought

Amtrak has been a federally funded passenger rail service since 1971.

The rail operator recently submitted its fiscal year 2015 budget request to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The proposed budget asks for $1.62 billion -- a 16 percent increase compared with the current budget. The figure includes $618 million, which would cover the projected difference between revenues and expenses for operating long-distance service, according to the proposal.

Ridership along long-distance routes has increased 20 percent since 1998, reaching its highest point in 20 years in fiscal year 2013, according to Amtrak figures. At the same time, no new services have been introduced.

The overall funding increase is needed to maintain and improve Amtrak's rail system, which now is more vulnerable to problems from declining rail infrastructure, Boardman wrote in Amtrak's budget request.

Boardman also requests changing how Amtrak is funded.

The proposed multi-year funding structure would allow Amtrak to continue updating its fleet and to address infrastructure needs.

The arrangement would be more flexible than the year-to-year money Amtrak now receives and would establish dedicated funding for long-range projects and future purchases, Boardman wrote.

During the past decade, Amtrak has used revenue from its heavily traveled Northeast Corridor -- which serves large cities such as Boston, New York City and Philadelphia among others -- to subsidize long-distance service including its Crescent line and 14 other routes.

 

 Record year

Fiscal year 2013 was a banner year for Amtrak nationwide, according to figures.

In that year, Amtrak set a ticket revenue record of $2.1 billion and a ridership record of 31.6 million, according to budget information.

Also in that year, Amtrak estimates service disruptions caused by weather and other problems cost more than 440,000 riders and $42 million in ticket revenue.

"That we did this in spite of serious obstacles says a lot about the demand -- but the losses we did see are just the first of the challenges we can expect to face if we do not act now to stop the decay of the Amtrak system," Boardman wrote.

 

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Officials not keeping track of oil trains - 3/31/2014

Officials not keeping track of oil trains

 

By James Pilcher

 

Domestic oil production, including that in Ohio, keeps growing. And with oil being produced in new areas that don't have pipelines, more crude is heading to refineries in rail cars. Yet neither federal nor state regulators track the shipments that are increasingly crisscrossing the country - potentially cutting through neighborhoods and business districts nationwide and in Greater Cincinnati.

 

Much of the oil apparently is more volatile than traditional crude, with some experts saying it is as explosive "as gasoline." A number of oil tanker accidents and explosions made headlines last year, including last July's derailment and explosion in Québec that killed 47 people and all but leveled a small town. The train was pulling at least a dozen tank cars carrying crude pulled from Bakken shale deposits.

 

Similar types of oil are being pulled from shale fields all over the U.S. including eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and North Dakota.

 

"Regulators across North America simply have not kept up with the boom in moving oil by train," said Keith Stewart, a Canadian-based researcher for the environmental group Greenpeace. "You would be shocked how little governments know how much and where and when this oil is moving by rail."

 

Federal regulators don't know what is on the tracks at any given time. Nor do first responders and community officials, apart from getting a list of the top 25 hazardous materials that move through their communities. But due to security concerns, local officials can't make the top 25 lists public. Railroads must keep a list internally, but those records also are not public.

 

The lack of disclosure could pose a problem for a city such as Cincinnati, which has one of the Midwest's largest railyards in CSX-owned Queensgate, which sits near Downtown. Several other heavily traveled lines owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern cut through other area cities and towns such as Covington, Erlanger, Blue Ash and Fairfield. An Enquirer review of federal hazardous material incident data since 1971 shows no local reports of crude oil shipments problems by either rail or truck - although the data include several mishaps involving gasoline.

 

"All kinds of hazardous materials go through (Queensgate) and no, we're not notified of what is going through when," said Cincinnati Fire Department District Chief Tom Lakamp, who oversees special operations and hazardous materials response teams for the city. "It's impossible to plan for. So we just try to have enough materials and manpower on hand. ... I mean who knows where something might happen in the city or the area?"

 

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration oversees the shipments of all hazardous materials, including crude oil, superseding state regulators for rail shipments. The agency did not make anyone available for interviews, but said in a statement that it was starting to look at changing its rules and was taking a closer look at oil shipments. That includes inspection of trains leaving North Dakota wells, along with possibly requiring safer tank cars.

 

 

 

All that's called 'crude' is not necessarily the same

 

The United States is poised to become the world's largest combined producer of natural gas and crude oil in the coming year, according to federal data, which indicate the country produced 7.5 million barrels of oil a day last year. Oil industry officials saying national production has been above 8 million barrels per day since November.

 

Ohio is a part of that growth, due to the wells in the eastern part of the state pulling up oil and natural gas from Utica shale reserves. The state produced 16,000 barrels of oil a day last year, up more than 23 percent from 2012.

 

But even as oil production has grown, pipeline infrastructure hasn't kept pace. That's forced oil producers and refiners to turn to rail shipments, especially in remote areas such as North Dakota, but also in Ohio. The railroad industry reports that crude oil shipments nearly doubled in 2013 as compared with 2012, with the American Association of Railroads estimating that more than 400,000 tank loads of crude arrived by rail last year.

 

A single tank car holds about 714 barrels of oil, and each barrel contains 42 gallons, meaning every tank car contains 30,000 gallons of oil. But an Ohio oil industry official says the majority of what's called oil produced and shipped in the state is " very volatile" and "basically liquefied natural gas," even as he points out that Ohio oil has been pumped and shipped safely for decades.

 

"It is still classified as crude oil, even though it is a lot closer to gasoline," said Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Natural Gas Association. "The bottom line is that it should be treated differently than other crude oil."

 

Stewart says most of Ohio's oil is shipped out of state - although refineries in Ohio and Kentucky are starting to take on this volatile oil.

 

Finally, the oil is being shipped in outdated tanker cars. The National Transportation Safety Board started recommending in 1991 that oil companies stop using the older model of tanker because they have proven not to prevent spillage and explosions in case of derailments. It renewed its call this January.

 

"You've got one of the most profitable industries in the world looking to save a few dollars at the cost of safety," said Fred Millar, a Virginia-based rail/hazmat safety consultant who has worked with major cities on safety planning.

 

Locally, CSX officials say the company is taking "a top to bottom review" of how it ships oil. However, CSX declined to say if crude oil was included on the top 25 hazardous materials list for Cincinnati or Queensgate. Nor would company officials say how many trains come through daily. Previous reports, however, indicate that the 160-acre rail yard handles at least 100 trains a day.

 

"CSX is resolved to put into place equipment, standards, regulations, practices, and training to ensure that all commodities handled by railroads are handled in the safest manner possible," the company said in a statement.

 

 

 

Issue creates tensions; changes on the way?

 

Tension abounds between the oil and rail industries over the shipments, even as railroads court oil producers as customers.

Many carriers - including CSX and the Genesee & Wyoming railroad - actively market their capacity to oil producers. But on the other hand, national railroad officials openly acknowledge differences with the oil industry over safety standards.

 

"The shippers own the cars and the materials and are responsible for safe packaging and labeling, but we're the ones liable in case of an accident," said Holly Arthur, spokeswoman for the American Association of Railroads.

The rail industry last month agreed with the U.S. Transportation Department to voluntarily impose tighter procedures, including:

 

Installing better brakes on trains with 20 or more oil cars.

 

Limiting speeds to 40 miles per hour on trains with 20 or more rail cars in highly populated areas.

 

Increase track inspections on lines that carry trains with heavy oil traffic.

Oil industry officials say they are also trying to improve safety, but have not yet agreed to any specifics. "Our mitigation efforts are looking at topics like tank car design and crude oil testing and classification," said Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer for the American Petroleum Institute.

 

As for the regulators, PHMSA is studying new variations of the domestically produced oil and its potential volatility. It's also double-checking that domestic oil is property categorized and shipped.

 

Critics say that isn't enough, saying that government and industry need to catch up and start keeping better track of oil shipments.

 

"This is clearly dangerous stuff ... and that should be of concern to citizens everywhere, especially in areas where there is a lot of train activity," Greenpeace's Stewart said.

 

The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 30, 2014

 

 

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Missouri House passes HB1617 (paycheck deception) - 3/31/2014

Today your Missouri House of Representatives "Perfected and Passed" HB1617. It will now go over to the Senate. As HB1617 reads right now it only effects Public employees. But don't let the limited group that they are attacking fool you. This is just the start of an overall and outright attack by some members of the Missouri Legislature against all of labor and labor organizations.

 

 

Below is a brief summary of the bill:

 

1. No sum shall be withheld from the earnings of any public employee for

2 the purpose of paying any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or any other fees paid by

3 public employee members of a public labor organization, public employees who are not

4 members except upon the annual written authorization of the public employee member,

5 or the public employees who are not members.

6 2. No public labor organization shall use or obtain any portion of dues, agency shop

7 fees, or any other fees paid by public employee members of the labor organization, or

8 public employees who are not members to make contributions or expenditures as defined

9 in section 130.011, except on the written authorization of such member or non member

10 received within the previous twelve months.

Click here to read the whole bill; http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/hlrbillspdf/5565H.03I.PDF

 

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Operating unions advance federal crew-size legislation.

(We did some lobbying on H.R.-3040 while in DC last week and it has some great bi-partisan support. We will keep you updated on it as it progresses)

capitolCLEVELAND — The Transportation Division of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation International Association (SMART) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET/IBT) have jointly announced that legislation requiring at least two crew members on all freight trains in the U.S. has been filed in Congress.

Initial sponsors for H.R. 3040 are U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and the bill is expected to be assigned to the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee for consideration.

The legislation reflects heightened concerns over crew size arising from the tragic July 6 derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) fuel train in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 and destroyed the center of the town. The MM&A train was crewed by a single person.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce called on the House to take up the bill at its earliest opportunity. “The American people are justifiably concerned that the single-person crewing practice used on M&MA and some other short line railroads places the public safety at risk,” Pierce said. “We urge Chairman Schuster and the T&I Committee to hold hearings on this issue after the recess.”

SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey said, “This is a responsible piece of legislation that recognizes the correlations between the consist of crews and public safety. We thank Reps. Michaud and Pingree and urge more representatives to join in support.”


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/29/4518593/obamacare-a-primer.html#storylink=cpy

 

WASHINGTON – A final rule on improved locomotive cab safety and comfort has been published by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The final rule, affecting all new and remanufactured locomotives in road and yard service, follows collaboration among the FRA, rail labor and carriers through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) process and becomes effective June 8. To read full article click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest News Update from Director Menges

Click here to read. 07/27/2012