Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) issued the following statement following the announcement that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed Senate Bill 357, Creating Jobs and Safety Act of 2015, into law.
"I am deeply disappointed that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed Senate Bill 357, the so-called Creating Jobs and Safety Act of 2015, into law today. I have said again and again as this legislation has moved through the process that it is a bad bill, a bill that strips vital protections that were put in place to keep our miners safe. I am saddened that Governor Tomblin put coal industry operators, CEOs and profits above the health and safety of West Virginia’s hardworking coal miners.
I fought against this new Republican majority in the Legislature as they ramrodded this bill through the legislative process. I watched with a heavy heart as many of my colleagues in the House of Delegates voted for the bill based on the promises of making the coal industry more profitable and more competitive. Those profits will be coming at the expense of the health and safety of those West Virginia men and women who go underground into a mine every day.
I pleaded for my colleagues in the House to put people over profits by rejecting this legislation. I urged Governor Tomblin to veto this legislation, and I am disappointed that he instead chose to be the first Governor in recent history to support weaker mine safety regulations.
The most important thing to come out of a coal mine is a coal miner. West Virginia needs to again start putting people over profits and work to strengthen mine safety regulations.
It is a sad day when this industry has so much control that they not only have the support of the new Republican majority, but also now have the support of the Democratic Governor, to put miners at risk to increase their bottom line. West Virginia leads the nation in coal mine fatalities. We need to work to strengthen our mine safety laws NOT weaken them. "