CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislation to improve coal mine safety (HB4351) is on hold, after coal industry representatives balked at three key provisions in the bill.
The bill, introduced by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin but incorporating many provisions of a House bill backed by Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, and others, was to have been on amendment stage on the House floor Tuesday.
Instead, the House Rules Committee moved the bill to the inactive calendar. House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said that was done to allow time to try to negotiate a compromise.
"If we can't, we can run the bill and fight it out on the floor," he said.
Industry representatives are opposed to three provisions in the bill:
Delegates, senators, and union and industry lobbyists are scheduled to resume closed-door negotiations Wednesday, after failing to reach agreement Tuesday.
One of the negotiators, Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, a United Mine Workers international representative, did not sound optimistic Tuesday afternoon.
"It could be a deal-breaker," he said of industry's demands. "We're going to try to get something worked out."
However, Tomblin chief of staff Rob Alsop remained confident an agreement would be reached.
"I think there will be a mine safety bill. There's still time to work out the details," he said. "We want a bill. The House and Senate want a bill."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.