Friday, May 22, 2015

House Democrats To Bargain with GOP for MSHA Subpoena Authority

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives want to give subpoena authority to MSHA and will
attempt to pass mine safety amendments as part of a bargain with Republicans currently in control of Congress. Mine safety reform legislation has been introduced in Congress numerous times since 2007, and all attempts so far have been unsuccessful.

Currently, MSHA must rely on subpoena authority during investigations used by some states unless it calls a public hearing. The subpoena provision entitled the “Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act of 2015” would give MSHA independent subpoena authority for investigations and inspections without calling a hearing.

U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) said at an April 23 subcommittee hearing that she and Democrat Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) had reintroduced sweeping reform legislation containing a provision that would allow MSHA to issue subpoenas to compel witness testimony and the production of documents during investigations and inspections.

Other provisions of the proposed legislation include increasing penalties for some violations, strengthening whistleblower protections and broadening the definition of what constitutes a “significant and substantial” violation.

Read more about this potential change at The National Law Review