Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - March/April 2011 - (Page 24)

Anatomy of a Legislative NSSGA members force congressional leaders to acknowledge distinction between aggregates and coal by Hal Williford President and CEO, Memphis Stone and Gravel Company Past NSSGA Chairman, Government Affairs Division O n a muggy July morning, in a cramped committee room with walls adorned with paintings of congressional barons from a half-century ago, the House Education and Labor Committee voted out mine safety legislation with a precedent-setting exclusion for surface and underground aggregates facilities from potentially devastating provisions that could have forced the shutdown of hundreds of aggregates facilities across the United States. This dramatic decision, in a committee led by liberal Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), close ally of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was historic. Not since the 1977 enactment of the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act has a powerful congressional committee voted to exclude aggregates from sweeping and major mine safety legislation. Such a precedent in Congress is important because it often portends the parameters of future efforts of this same sort. This bill called for such draconian measures as: • Broadening the definition of what kind of alleged violation was subject to designation as “Significant and Substantial;” • Subjecting operators to legal responsibility for reporting injuries of contractors; • Further criminalizing safety management by significantly reducing the threshold for criminal liability from willfully violating the act, to just knowingly violating it; and…seemingly the old-standby after a coal disaster… • Big dollar increases in penalty amounts for both criminal and civil violations just four years after enactment of the MINER Act, which had itself increased penalties. Proponents of the bill claimed that the measure was designed to prevent recurrences of disasters like April 2010’s Upper Big Branch coal mine tragedy in West Virginia. The action followed a climactic eleventh-hour meeting the preceding evening in Miller’s spacious chairman’s office between the congressman and a delegation of stone, sand and gravel industry leaders led by NSSGA’s First Vice Chairman of the Board Dave Thomey, president of Maryland Materials; Jim Veneskey, safety manager for eastern U.S. for Aggregate Stone, Sand & Gravel Review, March/April 2011 24

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - March/April 2011

Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - March/April 2011
Events Calendar
Legislative & Regulatory Calendar
Senate Majority Leader Welcomes NSSGA Members to His Native State
Welcome to Las Vegas!
The United States Must Have a Federal Commitment to Infrastructure
Reach Out to Your Peers With “One-to-Five”
What the Anatomy of a Legislative Success Looks Like
How Planning Ahead Will Enhance Your AGG1 Experience and Generate Your Highest ROI
Boxley Reports on the Company’s Sustainability Program – Greener. Smarter. Better.™
Pursuing Sustainable Business Initiatives From a Large Business Perspective
Learn Your New Congressional Leadership
Rip ’N Share Safety Handout
Products & Services Guide Listings
Buyers’ Guide

Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - March/April 2011