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Stumbo wants all lawmakers to be paid even though House members won't show up;

FRANKFORT — The state Senate was set to reconvene this afternoon after a two-week recess for what is expected to be the final day of a special legislative session called to pass a Medicaid budget bill.

The House, which finished up about two weeks ago and adjourned, will not be coming back in.

But because of an odd twist, all 138 lawmakers may still be paid salaries and expenses at a cost of about $600,000.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a letter Tuesday that the state constitution requires lawmakers to be paid, even though they weren’t at work. He blames Senate President David Williams for not adjourning sooner.

Williams has called for the Legislative Research Commission to withhold pay to lawmakers. Stumbo wants the attorney general to decide if that’s constitutional.

From The Daily News, Bowling Green

Requirements for light fixtures more strigent;

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing updated standards for light fixtures to qualify for the Energy Star label – an efficiency program that has saved consumers money on their energy bills while contributing to cleaner air and protecting people’s health since 1992. Effective October 1, 2011, to qualify for the Energy Star label light fixtures will need to increase efficiency 30 percent above currently qualified fluorescent-based fixtures. In 2013, performance requirements will increase further, providing 40 percent higher efficiency compared to currently qualified models. 

Light fixtures that earn the Energy Star save consumers money on their energy bills and reduce the costs and hassle associated with bulb replacement. The bulbs in Energy Star qualified fixtures last at least 10 times longer than standard light bulbs. The fixtures will continue to meet other strict performance requirements that ensure quick start-up and high quality light output, as well as reduced toxics in the fixture materials. Additionally, the fixtures will come with a 3-year warranty, which is above the industry practice. 

Consumers can expect to see a range of technology options qualifying under the new Energy Star requirements -- including fluorescent and LED lighting -- each held to the same high standard. In order to earn the Energy Star label under the new requirements, product performance must be certified by an EPA-recognized third-party, based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. In addition, manufacturers of the products must participate in verification testing programs run by recognized certification bodies. 

Energy Star was started by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $18 billion on their energy bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 33 million vehicles. 

More information on light fixtures:

More information about the Energy Star program:

Today is first anniversary of coal mine disaster; Massey idling production in honor 
One year after the explosion at a Massey Energy coal mine in Montcoal, W.Va., killed 29 miners, mine-safety regulators are working to use lessons from the disaster to prevent similar events from happening in the future.
Joe Main, head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and an assistant labor secretary, says "many lessons in safety practices were learned at the expense of the victims, and his agency has methodically implemented them," This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the The Register-Herald in Beckley, W.Va., reports. While noting MSHA was only looking to report the evidence from its investigation not blame, Main told Porterfield "There’s one thing that is a matter of fact here. Massey Energy was running that mine, was responsible for making sure that health and safety measures were in place to protect those miners. It’s their mine we’re finding these conditions at." (Read more) (Register-Herald photo of memorial in Whitesville, W.Va.)

Former MSHA head Davitt McAteer, whom then-West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin appointed to conduct an independent investigation of the disaster, plans to release a report detailing failures of company safety systems and regulatory oversight leading up to the explosion within the next few weeks, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of The Wall Street Journal reports. "It is without question that the prevention systems failed, and that includes company inspections and government inspections," McAteer, who ran MSHA during the Clinton administration, told Maher. Massey Chairman Bobby Inman told Maher he believed the explosion was a "natural disaster." (Read more

Nearly 20 hours of recorded emergency radio traffic and phone calls, as well as printed 911 logs and transcripts, and notes from the command center at the mine documenting the disaster response following the explosion, show "a slow and tepid initial response to the dire emergency," Howard Berkes of National Public Radio reports. McAteer says the documentsshow two failures. "One is timely reporting of an extremely serious situation," he told Berkes. "And second is the accuracy of that initial report, which underplayed the circumstances of what was going on." (Read more

The documents include handwritten lists of miners, indicating that officials at Massey had trouble determining who was underground at the time of the explosion. "One list suggests miners who died in the explosion were working with miners who weren't even there," Berkes writes. The confusion should never have happened, McAteer told Berkes. "You mean to tell me that in today's age, where computers can tell you within seconds the level of production off a longwall and where that coal is moving along the conveyor belt, we can't keep track of people? That's unacceptable." (Read more)

The disaster promptd MSHA to start unannounced "impact inspections," 39 of which have been conducted in Kentucky and 32 in West Virginia, Dori Hjalmarson of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. "There are more outlaw operators in Eastern Kentucky than anywhere in the country," Lexington mine-safety lawyer Tony Oppegard told Hjalmarson. (Read more)

Massey is idling production at its 60 underground mines today to honor the victims of the disaster, and will hold a company-wide moment of silence at 3:02 p.m. EDT. Nick Brockman of The Register-Heraldreports on the various memorials planned throughout the region, and Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette has ongoing coverage of the anniversary at his blog "Coal Tattoo." You can read The Register-Herald's coverage of the anniversary.
Posted by Jon Hale
Posted by Jon Hale