Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Miners win black lung legislation

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Legislation to make it easier for coal miners to win claims for black lung disease, but which emphasizes education and retraining instead of cash payments, won final passage Monday.

        The Kentucky House, which originated the bill, agreed to a Senate version and passed it 96-0.

        “There's not a piece of legislation more important to my district,” Rep. Howard Cornett, R-Whitesburg, said in a speech to his colleagues.

        Under the bill, a miner with any X-ray evidence of black lung — even with no breathing impairment — would be eligible for retraining benefits worth nearly $65,000 over four years.

        The legislation had the support of both the coal industry and labor, which fought each other on the issue for three straight legislative sessions.

        The Senate declined to pass previous bills. This year, the Republican majority appears to be counting on it to help Rep. Johnnie Turner, R-Harlan, unseat Democratic Sen. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard.

        The bill would loosen restrictions on black-lung claims that were enacted in 1996 at Gov. Paul Patton's request. Patton said at the time that the claims system was “out of control.” He later said the restrictions went too far. The Department of Workers' Claims disclosed last fall that it was approving about one claim in 90.

        The new legislation emphasizes education for younger miners — from basic literacy to college classes — and offers cash rewards for completion. Miners age 57 and older could take cash instead of retraining benefits.


        The legislation is House Bill 348.


Kentucky loses out on Hyundai
Fans: Now, this is baseball
Peevish cow passes on parade
RADEL: Reds as unifier
PULFER: How to gripe more effectively
SAMPLES: Easter Dogs
Some Good News
Area roads stack up well
Battle of theaters looms
Cincinnati youth to partake in racial diversity rally
Funerals arranged for three in crash
Lebanon looks to the past
Profiling resolution talks go on
Pyramid Hill offers concerts, kids' programs
Trash turned into mascot
Two indicted in printer cartridge theft
Warren leaders want consensus
Observer: Cincinnati is a hidden treasure
Officer fired for leaving scene of accident
Ohio gives none to anti-smoking effort
Suspect's trial begins in $1 death
Tristate A.M. Report
100-year-old poem of Kentucky heard around the world
Burlington Pro closing after more than 60 years
County readies reinstatement welfare rules
Court passes on free speech case
GOP contenders act cordially
High Court turns down payday lending customers' case
House ready to pass Ky. budget
- Miners win black lung legislation
Kentucky digest