Mine Safety Bill Clears House Committee

By: Danielle Morgan Email
By: Danielle Morgan Email

A break through in Frankfort after widows of coal miners made the trip to the capitol at least three times now to rally for new mine safety legislation.

House Bill 207 is aimed at increasing the number of mine inspections and requiring emergency technicians be on hand at all times. Thursday, it finally moved out of committee but not without some changes and supporters are now calling it too watered down.

Wives left behind by Eastern Kentucky fallen miners have possibly been the biggest mine safety advocates in Frankfort. They shared their heartache and concern for not only future miners, but those underground right now. Representative Brent Yonts sponsored the bill so dear to them, but is now very concerned.

"I'm glad to get it to the floor and be talked about. I don't really appreciate being hijacked though," Yonts said.

Yonts is referring to fellow Democrat Robin Webb, who presented a new version of the bill with several omissions.

"Two of six general inspections of underground mines that include electrical inspection stay the same," Webb said.

"The transportation issue, the methane gas detector issue, there's three or four issues I'm seriously concerned about that I think do damage to the bill," Yonts said.

Webb says with new inspectors just getting into place, it's difficult to get further recommendations.

"The attention surrounding this issue has been a little unfair on an issue such as this in a short session," Webb said.

The man standing closely by the widows, their attorney Tony Oppegard, says the new version of the bill is a travesty.

"Robin Webb obviously carrying the water of industry, comes in at the last minute and essentially guts the bill is very unfair, but it was not unexpected," Oppegard said.

Bill 207 now moves to the house floor for debate.


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