- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - U.S. Sen. John Thune says his bill to reform a federal transportation oversight board would aid South Dakotans by allowing regulators early on to investigate shipping issues like last year’s grain backlog.

The South Dakota senator’s bill to reform the federal Surface Transportation Board passed the Senate unanimously Thursday night.

The bill would, in part, authorize the board to investigate and resolve matters like service disputes, allowing regulators to tackle rail disruptions before they lead to major issues.

The delays in grain shipments last year were especially pronounced in northern Plains states like the Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota. Across the region, grain bins were full and harvests from prior years were stored on the ground while awaiting rail cars.

Thune’s bill still needs a companion in the U.S. House.

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