West Virginia Republican House member Shelley Moore Capito has introduced legislation that would increase civil and criminal penalties, strengthen pattern of violation provisions, and form an independent board to investigate major mining accidents.
HR 3697 would impose new potential criminal penalties for retaliation against a miner who reported health or safety violations or unhealthful or unsafe conditions, policies or practices, and for providing advance notice of inspections. The first offense would carry a penalty of up to $1 million and/or up to five years in prison. The penalty for those who knowingly provide false information to investigators would go to a maximum of $50,000. Civil penalties for retaliatory offenses would be raised to between $10,000 and $100,000.
An independent five-member National Mine Safety Board would investigate accidents involving three or more fatalities and recommend changes. The Board would have subpoena authority, as would MSHA. MSHA would also be given expanded injunctive authority. Sec. 104(d)(1) would be amended to cover any violation, not just violations of mandatory safety and health standards, as is currently the case.
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