SENATOR TOMBLIN: Mr. President, we started this year off on a very high note with the winning of the Sugar Bowl and from there we have all been in mourning for the last several weeks.
Starting with the Sago Mine disaster, and this weekend it happened again in my home county of Logan, we had two miners trapped underground for many hours, and we had a tragic ending.

I was very pleased to see the way the community came together, the love that was shared among all -- even those who had never had a member of their family in a coal mine. They came together to express their grief and their sorrow of what was happening in our coal mines.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am asking you to allow me to introduce a bill from the floor -- along with the Minority Leader -- which will address some of these issues. I think the issues contained in this bill would have been a recommendation of the commission that is now looking at both the Sago Mine disaster and the Aracoma Coal Mine disaster in Logan County. One of these issues deals with communications with miners underground.

One of the problems that we've had is locating miners when there's been a disaster. This bill, I think, will help tremendously. It will bring us into the 21st century on how we do underground mining in the State of West Virginia. And I'm sure that what we do here today will be felt across the country to prevent mining disasters such as we've had.

The other thing that the Minority Leader and I are asking to have introduced today would be to provide the availability of oxygen caches throughout underground coal mines. It's one of those things, in my opinion, that's not very expensive but, at the same time, it would provide additional oxygen that will keep miners alive if they are trapped the way that we've found them in our last two disasters.

Thirdly, Mr. President, this bill would require the notification immediately to the state mine office and to our safety office when a disaster occurs. In my opinion, there is absolutely no reason why it should take more than two hours to pick up the phone and call the state offices and let them know that a disaster has occurred.

I would respectfully request that you honor my request today to allow us to introduce this bill from the floor, which is a very rare occurrence in the West Virginia Senate. It will be my hope that if my request is granted, Mr. President, that the bill will be referred to the Judiciary Committee. The Finance Committee would be invited to attend, ask questions and try to understand what has happened in these two disasters and try to address some immediate problems to make sure that these kinds of deaths do not occur again.

It will be my hope that the Judiciary committee can pass a bill out early this afternoon and report it back to the floor of this Senate. We will come back this afternoon, hopefully suspend the rules of the Senate and pass the bill on to the House of Delegates.

I respectfully ask that you grant my request. Thank you.

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