For Delegate Charlene Marshall and myself, the accident was especially painful, each of us having lost loved ones in the coal mines. And we feel a deep, personal need to do everything we can to ensure that the laws are in place to prevent another mine tragedy.
This session we are joined by nine other delegates in introducing House Bill 4085, which is based on a thorough examination of the three complete UBB reports: McAteer, MSHA and the UMWA.
We drew from the conclusions those reports had in common to propose revisions to the state’s underground mine safety enforcement procedures. The bill would also trigger a comprehensive study by the Office on Miners’ Health, Safety and Training to consider an overhaul of our laws to promote timely and effective enforcement of mine safety measures.
The Governor has also introduced a mine safety bill with similar proposals, and I expect all elements of both bills will be considered.
Two weeks into this session, the House has adopted several noteworthy bills.
I am very pleased that the House was able to pass HB4086 early in the second full week of session. The hope is this legislation will put West Virginia in a better position to be chosen for a cracker facility location.
A $2 billion investment like this doesn’t come along every day – we wanted to get the bill moving quickly so the Governor has the tools he needs try to make that happen.
Among the other bills the House has adopted is legislation redefining and broadening the term "public record" as it is used in the Freedom of Information Act (HB2402), and one eliminating the requirement of serving domestic violence orders by certified mail (HB2521).
We have a great deal of work ahead.
I think the Legislature is close to retiring the long-term unfunded liability of Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), which is very important to the financial well being of both state government and the local school boards.
During the next several weeks left in the session, there are countless other issues the Legislature will tackle related to business, health, education, and our justice system. Then there is the state budget, which could be a challenge to balance.
I think this will continue to be a busy and productive session.