House Committee Hears Bill That Adds Problematic Regulations on Ohio’s Railroad Industry

The Ohio Chamber testified this week in opposition to House Bill 186 – a bill that, if enacted, would create burdensome and impractical regulations on railroad companies. These additional regulations would force rail companies to spend significant resources complying with the ill-conceived legislation and would likely lead to increased shipping costs for customers who rely on rail to transport their product to consumers.

House Bill 186 proposes to put in place regulations that dictate to railroad companies the design, construction and maintenance of rail yard walkways, the size of freight train crews, and the illumination standards at rail yards. Additionally, HB 186 includes an unworkable and excessive financial penalty for the obstruction of roadways by locomotives or rail cars. 

Ohio’s business climate would be negatively impacted by legislation such as HB 186 because the added regulations would increase the cost of doing business in the Buckeye State and would interfere with the employment relationship between employers and their employees. 

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce stood in opposition to the bill because in accordance with our mission to aggressively champion economic competitiveness, we view HB 186 as a detriment to Ohio companies’ ability to operate and compete. Burdensome government mandates on employers are detrimental to businesses because they prevent employers from crafting tailored solutions that fit their workplace best and add operation costs. Additionally, legislation that seeks to enact mandates on employment practices for a single industry creates an uneven playing fields for companies operating in that industry since all other employers outside the industry do not face the same government red tape.    

The Ohio Chamber also views Ohio’s rail industry as an indispensable part of the state’s infrastructure since businesses rely on the rail system to ship items ranging from household consumer goods to chemical and food products. In fact, according to data collected by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, only four states have more rail traffic than Ohio. On behalf of our members, the chamber will continue to voice our concerns about HB 186 with legislators and we are committed to assuring that rail companies will not face the onerous government mandates included in the legislation.