Mine Safety Bill Clears House, Heads To Senate

By: Julie Maloney Email
By: Julie Maloney Email

Underground coal miners could soon have safer working conditions after a mine safety bill was unanimously approved by the state House of Representatives Tuesday, but there might not be enough time to get it through the Senate.

After sixteen coal miners died in Kentucky last year, family members and some politicians have spent the past several months pushing for new mine safety requirements to be approved. With only six days left in the legislative session, some fear the bill will never make it to Governor Fletcher's desk.

Some say it's been an uphill battle trying to defend the lives of coal miners.

"We had 16 miners die in Kentucky coal mines last year. They deserve the strongest protection they can get," said Tony Oppegard, Mine Safety Advocate.

Stella Morris lost her husband to a coal mining accident in December of 2005. When we spoke with her in January, she said after more than a year, life hasn't gotten easier.

"It's been challenging. I'm a new mother and a widow all at the same time," Morris said.

The new mine safety bill requires at least two medics on site during each shift, six state safety inspections a year, and requires that every miner carry their own methane detector.

"We care about our coal miners and we hope that the people in the Senate will care about them as well. The coal industry can't survive with so many fatalities," Morris said.

With only a few days left in the legislative session, many fear there's not enough time to get the bill through the Senate.

"It's certainly doable if the senate has the will to do the right thing," Oppegard said.

And with family members still working in the mines, Morris says her hopes are still high.

Oppegard says State Representative Brent Yonts is sending a letter to members of the Senate outlining what the bill includes and why they say it's so important.

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