Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Senate Passes Bill for Drug, Alcohol Testing of Coal Miners

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, March 22, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

Mark York

HB 572 is part of Governor Fletcher’s mine safety agenda

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Bipartisan legislation to require drug and alcohol testing for miners, part of Governor Ernie Fletcher’s package of mine safety legislation, won unanimous passage today in the Kentucky Senate. The vote was 38-0.

The legislation, House Bill 572, was passed unanimously by the Kentucky House on March 8. The bill goes back to the House for a concurrence vote on a technical amendment added by the Senate.

“Mine safety has been a major emphasis of our administration,” Governor Fletcher stated. “Miners have to work as a team, and a miner who is impaired is a hazard to the entire team. I commend the Senate for its passage of House Bill 572 and encourage the House to act quickly on concurrence.”

HB 572 reflects recommendations of a task force that held public hearings last year on the issue of drug and alcohol use among miners. The bill would require prospective miners applying for certification by the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing to be tested to verify that they are free of drugs and alcohol.

Miners also could be tested after a serious accident, as could those working in the immediate area of an accident or who may have witnessed or contributed to an accident.

The primary sponsor of HB 572 is Rep. Robin Webb (D-Grayson), a former miner. The legislation was guided through the Senate by Sen. Robert Stivers (R-Manchester).

“The bill includes an incentive for mining companies in the form of workers’ compensation insurance credit for companies that implement assistance programs for employees with substance abuse problems,” Sen. Stivers said.

LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, said miner safety is a priority of the cabinet and the Fletcher administration.

“Mining is an important part of Kentucky’s economy, providing jobs to thousands of Kentuckians,” Wilcher said. “This bill is an important step toward greater mine safety because miners impaired by drugs or alcohol pose a danger to themselves and to their fellow miners.”