Kentucky Lawmakers OK Bill to Reduce Coal Mine Inspections

Mar 14, 2017
flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky lawmakers have agreed to loosen inspection requirements for underground coal mines.

The Kentucky Senate gave final approval to House Bill 384 on Tuesday. It would give the Department of Natural Resources commissioner discretion to replace up to three safety inspections with a mine safety analysis visit. It would also let the commissioner reduce the number of electrical inspections from two to one.

The bill would not affect federal mine inspections. Supporters say the bill would give the state flexibility to focus on other safety measures.

But others were reluctant to vote for a bill that would reduce inspections. Former coal miner and Democratic state Sen. Robin Webb voted against the bill, saying she worried fellow miners' blood would be on her hands if an accident occurred.

J. Tyler Franklin

State lawmakers are expected to consider a flurry of legislation over the next days as time runs out on this year’s General Assembly.

Bills dealing with charter schools, reducing criminal recidivism and new driver’s license security requirements are among the weightiest pieces of legislation scheduled to be taken up.

Legislators will also consider a measure that would base funding for state universities and technical colleges on areas such as graduation rates and numbers of degrees or credit hours earned.

Lawmakers will meet Tuesday and Wednesday before a designated 10-day break for the governor to veto legislation. Then on March 29 and 30, the legislature will have the opportunity to override vetoes or try and pass more bills.

Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Louisville next Monday. The announcement comes days after Vice President Mike Pence visited the city as he promoted the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The White House has been putting pressure on conservative lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who oppose the repeal and replace plan.

Notice of the event was sent out by Trump’s campaign committee, not the White House. The rally will be the third campaign-style event Trump has held since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

Benny Becker

As President Trump promises major investment in infrastructure, people across the country are hoping that includes spending on water pipes for drinking.

Flint, Mich., was a high-profile example of the many communities — like one in Eastern Kentucky — where people just can’t trust their water.

In Martin County, Ky., the water intake pulls from a river heavily contaminated by sewage and years of coal and gas extraction.

Josie Delong, a resident of the county, says she used to drink tap water until a doctor told her it could be the cause of her health issues.

Rebecca Kiger

Wendy Crites is a single mom, a Christian and a recovering addict in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. She's on parole and receiving substance abuse treatment through the Jefferson Day Report Center. Crites has been using drugs since she was 13, intravenously since she was 15.

“Everyone has some kind of addiction,” she said. “I believe it’s that hole everyone has in their heart that you’re trying to fill -- I’ve filled it with drugs. I think it’s really something only God can do. And I think he uses our weaknesses to bring us to him.”

Crites has a 26-year-old daughter, Ashley, and a 12-year-old son, Devin.

“I have the sweetest son - half of his life he’s saw me be strung out on drugs. He’s getting ready be a teenager, and I just want to be a good role model for him.”

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky’s Attorney General Andy Beshear said the state’s new right-to-work law is an example of misplaced priorities. In a recent visit to Western Kentucky University, he said the law won’t lead to the job creation its supporters are seeking.

 

Supporters of right-to-work say it will help Kentucky compete against other states for new jobs.

 

Right to work allows employees to work in unionized facilities without paying union dues. Unions are still legally responsible for collectively bargaining for all employees, and defending all employees in the event of a grievance. Beshear believes right-to-work is bad policy.

 

“I wanted to be Attorney General to better protect families, and all right-to-work does is pay our working families less,” Beshear said.

 

Beshear pointed out Kentucky won Site Selection magazine’s “Governor’s Cup” award for its number of capital investment projects in both 2014 and 2015. The Attorney General said that shows the state was capable of competing for jobs and industry without right-to-work.

Ryland Barton

Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Louisville Saturday to pitch the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“The Obamacare nightmare is about to end,” Pence said before a crowd of about 150 business owners.

The visit came as President Trump tries to rally support for the plan, especially among conservatives like Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who favors an outright repeal of Obamacare.

“Folks, let me be clear,” Pence said. “This is going to be a battle in Washington D.C. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all we need every Republican in Congress and we’re counting on Kentucky.”

Rhonda J Miller

The executive director of the Henderson Area Arts Alliance has only been on the job for three months. But Alex Caudill knows his territory. He’s a Henderson native who knows first-hand that there’s strong support in the region for getting more people involved in all of the arts – especially to fill the 980-seat theater.

“I think we need to provide a little more higher quality programming. We need to bring in some name acts, names that people know, to get people back in the door again. It’s kind of dwindled a little bit, our attendance has, with the shows that we’ve provided, so I think that’s something we need to work on.”

He says lots of tops artists have performed in Henderson, including Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Emmylou Harris, Allison Krauss and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Caudill says his other priority is getting more young people involved in the arts. He says he knows the value of the arts first-hand.

Creative Commons

A controversial bill that would change the way local school districts assign students to schools is running out of time as lawmakers close in on the final four working days of the General Assembly.

The bill would give priority to students who live closest to schools — and would likely mean the end of Louisville’s anti-segregation program designed to mingle students from different races, backgrounds and parts of town in the same schools.

The measure passed the state House of Representatives two weeks ago, but it hasn’t yet had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, which is the next step in the legislative process.

For Kentucky Voters, A Familiar Fight: Trump vs. Paul

Mar 10, 2017
J. Tyler Franklin

Duard Rutledge voted for Donald Trump and Rand Paul for the same reason: They’re not afraid of a fight.

That’s why the 66-year-old retired Toyota worker wasn’t worried to see Kentucky’s junior senator getting in the way of the Republican plan to replace Obama’s health care law.

“When you get two thoroughbreds, they are high strung,” he said. “But if you get them headed the right way they can both win the race.”

Paul has been one of the most vocal Senate critics of the GOP plan to replace the federal Affordable Care Act, even before he knew what was in it. Last week, he hauled a copy machine outside of the room where House Republicans were writing the bill and asked for a copy, highlighting the secrecy surrounding the proposal. Since then, he has declared the plan dead, calling it “Obamacare lite.”

Pages

Local Music | Lost River Sessions

Monday Afternoons at 4:45c/5:45e

Exploring the changing economy of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia

Photo Galleries

Cheryl Beckley

Photo Gallery: Caroline Spence and Eva Ross Play LRS LIVE!

Americana artist Caroline Spence and singer-songwriter Eva Ross played Lost River Sessions LIVE! on Thursday night at the Capitol Arts Center in downtown Bowling Green. Lost River Sessions LIVE! is made possible by Mike Simpson, the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau and WKU Public Broadcasting.

Read More

E-mail Newsletter