Whitesburg KY

Bill filed by Turner would help families of miners killed on job

State Senator Johnny Ray Turner, D-Drift, has filed a bill to establish a scholarship program for the families of fallen Kentucky coal miners.

Senate Bill 166 would create a scholarship program for the fallen coal miner’s surviving spouse and for any children younger than 27. The maximum scholarship amount for each surviving family member would be $50,000 for undergraduate studies and an additional $50,000 for graduate level studies.

“Many of our mining families are struggling financially,” said Senator Turner, who serves on such committees as Appropriations and Revenue. “These men and women risk their lives every day going into the coal mines and they should know that, in the event of a tragedy, their families are being cared for financially. They put themselves in danger to mine the coal that we are so dependent on and we need to at least assure them that we will be there for their families.”

If the bill is signed into law, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) will operate the scholarship program. The Secretary of Finance and Administration Cabinet will receive requests for funds, which will be allocated through the education savings plan from the general fund.

The Department of Natural Resources will maintain a database on each coal miner, which includes family members and contact information. When a coal miner dies because of a mining accident, the commissioner will notify the KHEAA of the death within 60 days. The KHEAA will then contact the survivors, making them aware of the scholarship program and directions on accessing funds.

Senate Bill 166 will be considered during the 2008 General Assembly.

Turner has served in the State Senate since 2001. He represents the 29th District, which includes Letcher, Knott, Breathitt, and Floyd counties.

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