(By Senator Prezioso)

Urging Congress and the President of the United States to work together to reform the Coal Act to ensure the health care entitlements of retired coal miners.

Whereas, West Virginia is a coal-producing and coal-consuming state that has benefitted tremendously from the hard, dangerous work of coal miners; and
Whereas, The United States government entered into a contract with the coal miners in 1946 that created the United Mine Workers' of America Health and Retirement Funds; and
Whereas, A federal commission established by United States Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole concluded in 1990:
"Retired coal miners have legitimate expectations of health care benefits for life; that was the promise they received during their working lives and that is how they planned their retirement years. That commitment should be honored."; and
Whereas, This promise became law in 1992 when Congress passed, and President George Bush signed, the Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefit Act (the Coal Act); and
Whereas, The Coal Act reiterated the promise of lifetime health benefits for retired coal miners and their dependents; and
Whereas, Congress intended the Coal Act to:
(1) Remedy problems with the provision and funding of health care benefits with respect to the beneficiaries of multiemployer benefit plans that provide health care benefits to retirees in the coal industry;
(2) Allow for sufficient operating assets for such plans; and
(3) Provide for the continuation of a privately financed self-sufficient program for the delivery of health care benefits to the beneficiaries of such plans; and
Whereas, Certain court decisions have eroded the financial structure that Congress put in place under the Coal Act; and
Whereas, These court decisions have placed the continued provision of health benefits to retired coal miners in jeopardy; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Legislature urges Congress and the President of the United States to work together to reform the financial structure of the Coal Act so as to ensure that retired coal miners continue to receive the health care benefits they were promised and so rightly deserve; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the Senate is hereby directed to forward a copy of this resolution to William J. Clinton, President; Trent Lott, Senate Majority Leader; Tom Daschle, Senate Minority Leader; Richard A. Gephardt, House Democratic Leader; Tom DeLay, House Majority Whip; and the members of the West Virginia congressional delegation.