Yesterday, Democratic lawmakers proposed new legislation that “would make it easier to shut down mines with poor safety records” and “would also boost penalties for serious violations, grant mine regulators the power to subpoena documents and testimony, and offer greater protection to whistleblowers who report safety problems.” The lawmakers say the legislation “is needed to fix a badly flawed system that came to light after the accident at the Upper Big Branch mine” that killed 29 workers in April. But Republicans like Rep. John Kline (R-MN) are balking at the proposal, claiming that it is too “expansive”:
Instead, said Kline, the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, the Democrats have overreached, proposing “a much more expansive approach” than that needed to protect the nation’s miners.
“Republicans,” Kline said in an e-mail, “believe we need targeted steps to improve mine safety and prevent tragedies like the one that occurred at the Upper Big Branch mine in April of this year. That means improving the mine safety laws on the books and demanding stronger enforcement by the federal agency charged with protecting miners.”
The Democrats’ proposal, Kline added, “takes a much more expansive approach, reshaping workplace safety policies that have nothing to do with protecting miners working underground.”
In particular, Kline is against “adding whistle-blower protections to the Occupational Safety and Health Act that apply to all workplaces.” The reason the legislation wants to address other workplaces is because “mines are not our nation’s only dangerous workplaces,” according to a Democratic summary of the proposal. “All workers deserve to come home safe after work each day.”