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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rockefeller won't seek re-election next year


U.S. Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on Jan. 11 announced he won't seek re-election in 2014. Rockefeller, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and long has championed rail regulatory reforms, has served in the Senate since 1984.

"As I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I've decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. "For the next two years in the Senate, and well beyond, I will continue working tirelessly on behalf of all West Virginians. Championing those most in need has been my life's calling, and I will never stop fighting to make a difference for the people who mean so much to me."

In late 2009, Rockefeller introduced the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2009 (S. 2889), which sought to increase rail competition, strengthen federal oversight of railroads and improve rail shippers' access to regulatory relief. The bill, which wasn't enacted, would have would required major railroads to quote "bottleneck" rates; set standards for reciprocal switching and terminal access rates; created a process for parties to challenge paper barriers; and increased STB scrutiny of future railroad mergers for competitive, service and environmental effects.

Rockefeller, 75, first came to West Virginia in 1964 as a worker for the national service program Volunteers in Service to America. He later served as a member of the state House of Delegates, secretary of state, president of West Virginia Wesleyan College and the state's governor.

Transportation workers will miss Rockefeller, said AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department officials in a press release.

"Transportation workers … can’t fathom the idea that as transportation jobs are on the line, Sen. Rockefeller won’t be there to fight for them as he always has," they said. "They can’t imagine that when transportation safety reforms are being debated, Sen. Rockefeller won’t be in committee or on the Senate floor keeping his colleagues honest."