Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed four bills into law today across the state. Two of them dealt with the coal industry.
Beshear came to the Hatcher Field/Pike County Airport to ceremonially sign two bills that several legislators believe will make positive changes.
Governor Steve Beshear joined legislators in signing two bills in hopes of changing the future for the coal mining industry.
Beshear said there are roughly 19,000 miners who work underground on a daily basis.
“We have got to make sure that their area, their workplace is safe,” said Beshear.
House Bill 385 aimed to do just that by keeping that environment drug and alcohol free.
Rep. Jim Gooch (D) of Kentucky’s 12th District said it was an amendment from a similar bill which was signed into law back in 2006.
“There are always new drugs that the old one did not cover so this bill is to make sure that all coal miners know that their co workers are not being impaired by the use of illegal drugs,” said Gooch.
Those who support the bill say the problem has to stop.
“The people that goes in the mines that uses drugs, they are putting their lives on the line and are also endangering the lives of the people working,” said Rep. Hubert Collins (D)
of Kentucky’s 97th District.
“There are a lot of safety concerns to start with and having a drug issue involved just doubles the issue so it is very important that we keep these mines safe and drug free,” said Rep. Leslie Combs (D) of Kentucky’s 94th District.
The second bill signed, house bill 411, named the fourth Monday in August "Coal Truck Driver Appreciation Day."
“A lot of times we really don't think about those coal truck drivers that are out there every day, risking their lives, hauling this coal back and forth and getting it where it needs to go,” said Beshear.
The bill's sponsor says he believes jobs are in danger.
“I think the average is 3.8 jobs evolve around one coal miner and if we don't get them back to work it is going to affect every business in eastern Kentucky,” said Rep. John Short (D) of Kentucky’s 92nd District.
Beshear said the bills will affect more than just those who live in the Appalachian coal fields.
“It is going to help miners everywhere in Kentucky both in the West and in the East.”
Beshear said H.B. 385 will not allow those who have had three drug or alcohol offenses to work in the mines anymore, and those who have had their first offense will be able to seek treatment before they return to work. H.B. 411 will not always be the fourth Monday in August, but will fall as the following Monday after “Coal Miner Appreciation Week.”
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