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Arkansas governor signs BLET-backed bill to protect train crews

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 21 —Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently signed into law a BLET-backed bill that imposes harsher penalties on criminals who target railroad workers.

Act 955 is designed “to protect freight rail employees and public transit employees by enhancing the penalties of certain criminal offenses.” Introduced as Arkansas House Bill 2116 on March 6, 2017, the measure passed the state House on March 27 by a 76-6 majority and passed the state Senate on March 29 by a 34-0 majority. Governor Hutchinson, a Republican, signed the bill on April 6, 2017.

Brother Terry L. Todd, Chairman of the BLET Arkansas State Legislative Board, said the legislation is designed to discourage terrorist acts against freight railroads and public transportation. It protects locomotive engineers, conductors, switchmen, brakemen, trainmen, and firemen, and also railroad managers.

Criminals are subject to enhanced sentences under this law if the victim of an offense is a railroad or public transit employee. Harsher penalties would be enforced for the following misdemeanors and felonies:

• Class A Misdemeanor or an unclassified Misdemeanor with a possible sentence greater than 90 days imprisonment, an additional period of imprisonment of not more than one year;

• Class C felony, Class D felony, on an unclassified felony, an additional period of imprisonment of at least six months but no more than two years; and

• Class Y felony, Class A felony, or Class B felony, an additional period of imprisonment of a least two years but no more than 10 years.

Brother Todd said Arkansas State Senator Eddie Joe Williams, a retired member of BLET Division 585, helped guide the bill through the Senate. He also worked with his counterparts in the SMART Transportation Division to lobby for the bill — Gerald Sale, SMART-TD Arkansas State Legislative Director and Wayne Denson, Arkansas State Legislative 1st Vice Chairman — and received support from the Arkansas State AFL-CIO.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked Brother Todd and all BLET members in the state of Arkansas who worked for passage of the bill. “I thank Brother Terry Todd for his diligence in lobbying to secure passage of this bill,” President Pierce said. “All rail workers and the traveling public will benefit from the passage of Act 955.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
bentley@ble-t.org

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