April has seen two major industrial accidents that have captured the national eye. Explosions at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana claimed the lives of forty workers and injured thirty-eight. Much of the media attention
on these tragedies has focused on the culpability of employers and enforcement capacity at federal agencies responsible for regulating mine and offshore
drilling safety. However, there are proactive steps states can take to address occupational safety hazards and ensure people do not have to sacrifice their personal safety in exchange for a paycheck.
Faced with tough budget challenges, legislators avoided most major new
initiatives and controversial bills during the 2010 regular session.
Using federal recovery and lottery dollars, most major budget cuts were
avoided and some coal severance taxes will be shifted to coal-producing
While not under the fiscal pressures of most states due to rising
prices for minerals, the 60 day session proved too fleeting, and the
legislature and governor had to use two brief special sessions
to complete their work. They did manage to pass some promising election
reforms and a solar tax credit, but big reforms of health care didn't
materialize and environmental policy moved backward on a couple fronts.