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Hall is wrong on HB 119

State Rep. W. Keith Hall has lost his way. A bill he recently filed which would place a large number of the people he represents in danger is a mistake and a lapse in judgment.

The proposal, House Bill 119, would allow mines with fewer than 18 employees on a shift to have only one miner trained in emergency medical procedures, working. Currently, all mines are required to have two METs (mine emergency technicians) on duty during a production shift. They do their regular work for the company, but are also on hand in the event of an accident.

The measure was enacted in 2007 after a Harlan County miner died when the only MET on staff panicked and didn’t apply necessary medical treatment.

It’s a good law. No matter if an accident occurs above or below ground, there’s a MET present and even if the MET is hurt, there’s another trained technician on the grounds.

So why would Hall want to strike down a regulation that makes our hard-working miners safer?

Clearly is comes down to the bottom line and that’s what makes his involvement in this bill so reprehensible. Hall’s income hinges on the bill. He leases coal reserves to a mine which would be affected by the proposed legislation.

When he first spoke with the Appalachian News-Express about the bill, he presented it as a way to increase production for small mines. He cited the case of a mine at Phelps, where he resides, which lost three days of production because an MET had the flu and couldn’t work. “You can do deadbeat work, but you can’t do production work,” Hall said.

He’s since admitted the mine was closer to his pocket that he first intimated.When the KiMara Coal #1 mine misses a day of production, Hall receives that much less royalty. “I know weeks where KiMara Coal has lost two and three days of work,” he said Feb. 26 in an interview with the News-Express.

Hall presents the bill as a savior to small mines unable to find METs. It’s shocking that his solution to the problem would be to eliminate safety measures instead of working to increase the number of miners trained as METs …

— The Appalachian News-Express

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