State Rep. Deberah Kula



Kula: Black lung benefit bill passes House


HARRISBURG, Oct. 9 – State Rep. Deb Kula, D-Fayette/Westmoreland, this week voted for legislation that would increase for the first time in 30 years state workers' compensation payments to retired coal miners in Pennsylvania who suffer from black lung-related diseases.


Kula said the bill would increase monthly payments by $50 for coal miners who are disabled with silicosis, anthracosilicosis, coal worker’s pneumoconiosis or asbestosis.


The maximum amount in workers' compensation miners with black lung disease can receive from their employer is $12,750. The state offers monthly compensation to miners after they reach that maximum. The legislation would increase that monthly benefit from $125 to $175 beginning July 1 of next year.


"With the economy sagging, we can't forget the people who worked tirelessly underground mining one of Pennsylvania's most valuable economic resources," Kula said."With health-care costs on the rise, we should be providing retired miners with additional money to help them get the care they need and deserve."


Earlier this year, Kula voted for another mining bill, now law, to reform the state's mine safety standards. The law puts safety first by focusing on pre-shift and on-shift mine inspections, and requiring other action to limit accidents and expedite evacuations in the event of an emergency. It also provides "walk-about rights," giving miners representation during state mine inspections.


The black lung legislation has passed the House and Senate, and the governor is expected to sign it soon.