No Action on the Miners Safety Bill

Working in a coal mine has been deadly for many Kentucky men over the past year, and their families don't think lawmakers are taking them seriously in their quest for tougher laws.

Miners' families once again made the trek from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to Frankfort, Ky., today Feb. 21, 2007.

Melissa Lee, a miner's widow, is getting used to the long drive to Frankfort. "I drove 5 hours last week."

A trip that ended in no action on a bill to require more safety inspections, miner methane detectors and other regulations at mines. She and the others are angry, but they say they'll keep coming back until something happens.

"I was real shocked that they did not. That Rep. Gooch has had this to sit on all this time, he's still not doing anything about it," Lee said.

But Gooch said the safety bill will be heard in committee and that there will be a vote about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007.

Widows, miners and families set off for lawmakers offices to demand a vote. On the way a chance encounter with House Speaker Jody Richards, and Richards assured them a bill will be passed.

"We're working on a bill. We're working on a bill. We'll have a good bill," Richards said.

The bill has opposition from the coal industry. Some believe it gets in the way of federal mandates already in place. And some say it wouldn't have made a difference in last year's accidents. The widows,miners and families disagree.

House leaders said they do expect the law to get approval and then be sent to the Senate.

The year 2006 was one of the deadliest for Kentucky coal miners, with 16 miners killed on the job.


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