Mine Families First

Suggested State Legislation: This Act establishes a program to help people whose family members are trapped, injured or awaiting rescue during an underground mine emergency.

Submitted as:
Pennsylvania
Act No. 57
Status: Enacted into law in 2007.

Suggested State Legislation: 2009 Docket

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Section 1. [Short Title.]This Act shall 1 l be cited as the “Mine Families First Act.”

Section 2. [Legislative Findings.] The [Legislature] finds and declares it is the policy of this [state] to treat the families of miners trapped, injured or waiting rescue during a mine emergency with the dignity and respect they deserve and to make sure the families are provided updated information on rescue efforts before the public or the media and that their needs and questions are attended to during a mine emergency.

Section 3. [Definitions.] As used in this Act:
“Department” means the state [Department of Environmental Protection].
“Mine Emergency Response Program” means the program established under [insert citation] in the [Department of Environmental Protection] to ensure the safety of underground miners.

Section 4. [Mine Families First Program.]
(a) The [department] shall establish a Mine Families First Program as part of the [Mine Emergency Response Program] defined under [insert citation] to ensure two-way communication between those people in command of a mine emergency response operation and the families of miners trapped, injured or waiting rescue.
(b) Within [90] days of the effective date of this section, the [department] shall develop a [Mine Families First Response and Communication Plan] to outline the steps that shall be taken by the [department] and mine owners and operators to communicate with families of miners involved in a mine emergency. The [Plan] shall at a minimum contain the following:
(1) procedures for the immediate notification of mine family members in the event of a mine emergency through people previously designated by mine workers;
(2) designation of and, if necessary, transportation to a physical location for mine families to gather to obtain information about the mine emergency and rescue operations;
(3) security provisions to ensure the privacy of mine families at the location designated for mine emergency briefings for families;
(4) procedures to ensure mine families are briefed regularly, before the news media, about the progress of the mine emergency response;
(5) designation of a [Mine Family First Liaison Staff] for each incident to serve as a 24-hour point of contact for mine families to provide a two-way conduit for information about the mine emergency and rescue operation;
(6) procedures and a process for involving and coordinating the participation of not-for-profit and public social service organizations to provide counseling and other social services mine families may need during a mine emergency; and
(7) procedures to notify; and, if needed, transport miner families to medical facilities where miners extricated from mines are given follow-up medical care.
(c) (1) The [department] shall, within [30] days of completing the initial [Mine Families First Response and Communications Plan], submit the [Plan] for public review and comment.
(2) After completion of the review and comment period, the [department] shall make the necessary revisions to the [Mine Families First Response and Communication Plan] and develop a final plan for use as part of a [Mine Emergency Response Program].
(d) The [department] shall designate a person to serve as [Mine Families First Liaison] for each mine emergency, whose duties shall include, at a minimum:
(1) provide miners’ families with briefings on the progress of mine emergency response operations in a timely and effective manner;
(2) receive and act on comments, concerns and needs of the miners’ families during and immediately after the response to the mine emergency;
(3) coordinate with the appropriate social service, disaster aid and other public and not-for-profit agencies and organizations to provide assistance needed by mine families;
(4) assure information about the mine emergency response is communicated to miners’ families first before information is released to the public or media; and
(5) ensure the wishes of the miners’ families are honored with respect to the granting of interviews and access by the news media.
(e) The [department] shall develop a training program for [Mine Families First Liaisons] to provide a basic level of competency in handling emergency situations, in effective communications techniques and in understanding the psychological factors experienced by miners’ families during mine emergency situations.

Section 5. [Advisory Council.].
(a) The [department] shall establish a [Mine Families First Response and Communications Advisory Council]. The [Council] shall be comprised of at least the following members:
(1) one member representing mine owners;
(2) one member representing mine labor unions;
(3) one member representing local emergency response professionals;
(4) one member representing mental health professionals;
(5) one member from the [state Emergency Management Agency]; and
(6) two at-large members selected from the general public.
(b) Each member shall be appointed [by the Governor, with the exception of the two at large members, one of whom shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate and the other of whom shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives]. All members must be residents of this state. [One] alternate member shall be appointed for each member and shall take the place of the respective member whenever that member is unable to attend an official meeting.
(c) Each member shall serve for a period of [three] years. A member upon expiration of that member's term shall continue to serve until a successor is appointed.
(d) The [Advisory Council] shall assist the [department] in developing the initial [Mine Families First Response and Communications Plan] and provide assistance in periodic review and updating of the [Plan]. The [Advisory Council] shall assist in reviewing how the [Plan] was used in the event of an actual mine emergency and offer recommendations to the [department] for any needed changes to the plan resulting from its review.
(e) [Advisory Council] members shall not receive a salary but shall be reimbursed for all necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. An alternate may not be reimbursed unless the alternate serves in place of the appointed member.
(f) All actions of the [Advisory Council] shall be by majority vote of the members or alternates present. A quorum shall be at least one more than half the number of the [Advisory Council] members; however, vacancies shall not be counted when calculating the number needed for a quorum. The [Advisory Council] shall elect a chairperson from among its members. The [Advisory Council] shall meet upon the call of the chairperson, after a mine emergency, or at least annually.

Section 6. [Interagency Coordination.]The [department] shall coordinate the development of the [Mine Families First Response and Communication Plan] and the [Mine Families First Liaison Program] with the state [Emergency Management Agency] to ensure consistency with overall emergency response procedures and protocols.

Section 7. [Severability.] [Insert severability clause.]

Section 8. [Repealer.] [Insert repealer clause.]

Section 9. [Effective Date.] [Insert effective date.]

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