More Bills Moving Through The General Assembly

MINE SAFETY

The sponsor of legislation to toughen mine safety laws in
Kentucky filed an amendment on Friday in an effort to get portions
of a bill restored, including one that would provide methane
detectors to every coal miner.
State Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said the bill had been
gutted by a legislative committee and needs to be amended to
provide needed protections for coal miners.
Besides the methane detectors, the amendment would restore
language to require coal operators to keep a vehicle near working
crews so that injured miners can get to the surface quickly. It
also would require certified engineers to design the barriers used
to seal off abandoned mine tunnels where methane can built up.
Two provisions kept in the bill would require two medics to be
on duty at underground mines, and would double the number of annual
state inspections from three to six.
The proposals follow one of the deadliest years in recent
history for coal miners in Kentucky. In all, 16 miners were killed
on the job in 2006. Five of the deaths were from a single Harlan
County underground mine explosion in May.
Nationwide last year, 47 coal miners were killed on the job -
the highest toll since 1995. The deaths, which included 12 miners
in a single incident in Sago, W.Va., prompted Congress to pass the
first major overhaul of mine safety laws in three decades.
House Speaker Jody Richards said he has been working with
lawmakers to try to reach an agreement on the legislation. Richards
said some progress has been made on the measure, and it could
receive a vote in the House as early as Monday.
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The legislation is House Bill 207.

SCHOOL BULLIES
School districts would be required to prevent children from
being bullied under a bill that passed the House on Friday.
The anti-bullying bill, approved on a 91-4 vote, would modify a
current law that requires schools to provide safe learning
environments. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where a
similar measure died last year.
Proponents of the bill claim statewide legislation is needed
because of a perceived increase in bully activity, including
so-called "cyber bulling" by way of the Internet. Opponents
contend the measure has lawmakers dictating to professional
educators how to deal with school bullies.
The bill would require every school district to develop a code
of conduct that prohibits harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Penalties would include suspension and expulsion.
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The legislation is House Bill 64.

PROLIFIC CANDIDATES
Political candidates who lose in primary elections would be
barred from running as write-in candidates in the subsequent
general elections under a measure that passed the House on Friday.
State Rep. Brent Yonts, sponsor of the legislation, said the
intention is simply to stop losing candidates from re-entering the
race for the same office.
The measure passed on an 83-13 vote, and now moves to the Senate
for consideration.
Les Fugate, spokesman for the secretary of state's office, said
other states have passed similar measures, known as sore loser
laws.
"We're supportive of it, as long as it's constitutional,
because of the burden it places on county clerks," Fugate said.
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The legislation is House Bill 131.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-02-07 1616EST


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