State Rep. Jack Cera

Recently,  in the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, State Representative Jack  Cera (D-Bellaire)  gave sponsor testimony on House Concurrent Resolution 30.  The resolution calls on Congress to pass the Coal Accountability and Retired Employees Act.

According to Representative Cera, the U.S. Government made a commitment nearly 70 years ago to protect the retirement funds for mine workers and their families.  One of those funds runs the risk of insolvency.  However, Rep. Cera is hopeful that Congress will work to provide a long term solution to keep the commitment to coal miners.

“Coal has fueled our country’s growth for years,” said Rep. Cera. “Mine workers made concessions to their health and in time spent with families in order to provide us with a viable energy source. Our federal government needs to step up and make every effort to preserve their retirement and health care benefits.”  

Rep. Cera noted that a bi-partisan group of West Virginia legislators in Congress are working to assure the solvency of the pension plans. Some ideas for supporting the fund include:  transferring interest from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund; making retirees who lose benefits due to bankruptcy eligible for 1992 Benefit Plan which was established under the Coal Act; and to provide that employer contributions are not unfairly penalized under the tax code.

Representative Cera went on to say that he knows that coal mining is struggling to survive under federal regulations and the development of other energy sources. While he acknowledges that HCR 30 does not address those topics, he is hopeful that it will create an open dialogue on what is needed to keep the coal industry viable.

“Coal provides us with affordable and reliable electricity,” added Rep. Cera. “It has powered America to greatness and it can-- and must --fuel us into the future.  HCR 30 serves as a reminder that workers risked their health and lives to provide us with this much needed energy source.”


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