"I think these 29 miners might have been intimidated to death," he said. "They knew it was an unsafe mine."
Caputo noted that from the first mine safety law passed in Congress in 1892, to the current bill, all mine safety legislation passed by Congress or the Legislature has been in reaction to mine disasters.
"We're doing a bill because people died. That is the only time we pass meaningful legislation against this industry," he said.
Caputo, an international representative for the United Mine Workers, said at one point during negotiations, Thompson asked him if the current version of the bill would save lives.
Caputo's response: "Mr. Speaker, I believe it will."
He noted, "There are some in the press who've been critical of what we're doing...I want the press to let the world know we need to keep vigilant on the issue of mine safety."
Also Tuesday, the House passed and sent to the Senate bills to:
Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, spoke against the bill, noting that magistrates in those counties will have had a total of $27,000 of raises in the past nine years. Those raises alone nearly equal the average per capita income in the state, he said.
Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, said the intent of the bill is not only to keep those graduates in West Virginia, but also to encourage students to pursue degrees in those high-demand majors.
The bill is projected to cost the state $4 million to $6 million a year in reduced personal income tax collections.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.