HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. — When asked about the plan pitched by Democratic Senator Johnny Ray Turner to prevent another Blackjewel Mine situation, Governor Matt Bevin suggested he could sign something like it.
The miners in Harlan County have been sitting on the rails for weeks. Blackjewel paid the miners, then their paychecks bounced and the mine closed. The company was supposed to file a performance bond with the state, which is money set aside to pay workers in a situation like this. But it didn't happen.
While the mine goes through the bankruptcy process, Senator Turner wants to close what he calls a loophole that allowed Blackjewel to operate. It would give teeth to the current law and make state agencies look into mines that have operated for the last five years, and into the future, to make sure they have paid their bond.
Though the governor has not yet read the proposed bill, he agreed the loophole needed to be addressed.
"Doubt it was anyone's intent to create a loophole, but the loophole is there and so I’m glad we'll be closing it. I’d be happy to sign it. I imagine it would have overwhelming support,” Bevin said.
Senator Turner and other Democratic Leaders were in Harlan County August 15 to make the official announcement for the pre-filed bill.