House Democrats reintroduce mine safety bill

March 27, 2013

On March 21, a Democrat group of mine safety proponents in the U.S. House renewed their call for stronger mine safety standards by introducing legislation to boost penalties and protect whistle-blowers. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) joined Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member on the House Education and Workforce Committee, in introducing the bill that is similar to the version discussed in the previous two sessions of Congress. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) is also taking a higher profile on the issue as the new ranking member on the Workforce Protections Subcommittee.

The bill includes a wish-list of reforms from mine safety advocates, including tougher criminal and civil penalties for safety violations. It would also push mines to take care of their unpaid fines.

The legislation would also give MSHA more power to close problem mines and more subpoena authority. For miners, there are provisions for increased training, the ability to meet with regulators confidentially and employment protections.

In the Senate, lawmakers including Senate Labor Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have also been calling for new mine safety law. It will be difficult to get mine safety reform passed in the Republican-controlled House and Republicans in the Senate may use various rules and procedures to block any vote on such a bill.


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