Kentucky lawmakers had nearly 800 bills on their plate this session and one lawmaker touted mine safety as perhaps the most important.
“Our number one goal and there's not a higher goal for us this session is to ensure that our miners have a safe place to work,” said Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville.
The bill doubles the number of mine inspections, mandates more methane detectors, and orders more training for foremen. Widows of miners killed in 2006, one of the deadliest in recent years, watched the vote from the gallery, then showed their approval when not a single senator voted against it by clapping.
“We have all suffered tremendously and our losing our loved ones and this is what's important,’ said Widow Claudia Cole, whose husband Russell died in an accident.
“There's provisions in the bill that's gonna’ make it safer; the transportation, making methane detectors available,” said Morganfield Miner Butch Oldham.
The bill went through a roller coaster ride within a few weeks. Even the main sponsor once threatened to pull his support. Widows made trip after trip to Frankfort even crying before lawmakers in committee.
“Us not backing down, you know, even though we have nasty comments made about that. We didn’t, we didn't back down [on] them,” said Widow Stella Morris.
Several hours after sailing through the Senate the same thing happened in the House. It passed without one dissenting vote.