Retired Coal Miner from Wheeling to Attend State of the Union as McKinley's Guest

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Washington, January 29, 2018 | comments

Today, Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E., (WV-1) announced that Denny Pickens, a retired coal miner from Wheeling, West Virginia, will join him for tomorrow’s State of the Union address by President Trump. Mr. Pickens retired in 2014 after 43 years working in the coal mines of West Virginia. Like hundreds of thousands of other miners, Mr. Pickens paid into the United Mine Workers Association of America (UMWA) pension fund, which now faces a funding crisis. Rep. McKinley has introduced the bipartisan American Miners Pension (AMP) Act to address this crisis and give peace of mind to our retired miners.

“It’s an honor to have Mr. Pickens join us for the State of the Union. President Trump ran on a specific promise to help West Virginia, the coal industry, and our miners who have worked hard to ensure our nation had access to affordable and reliable energy. Only one year into his presidency and he has been delivering on those promises. Like so many other West Virginians. Mr. Pickens is a beneficiary of the UMWA Pension Fund, which is facing some major challenges,” said McKinley.

“Our office has been engaged in this effort for years. Last year, we successfully led legislation that protected healthcare benefits for retired miners, and we’re now laser focused on securing the pension fund they paid into. The bipartisan AMP Act will ensure that the promises made to these hard-working individuals are fulfilled,” McKinley said.

“There is a looming pensions crisis in America. The UMWA, Central States, and over 50 other pension funds are in critical condition. As the debate over pensions grows louder this year, it is critical that our retired miners have a seat at the table, which is why we’re honored to have Mr. Pickens here with us today,” McKinley added.

Background

The AMP Act seeks to shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan and ensure that its 100,000-plus members keep their current pensions. The plan currently faces insolvency in the coming years.

The AMP Act would use the provision from the Miners Protections Act, which is separate from the AMP Act, to allow transfers of excess funds in the Abandoned Mine Land program into the UMWA plan. The government-sponsored Abandoned Mine Land program reclaims mines abandoned before 1977 using fees paid by current coalmining companies.

The US Treasury would also be directed by the AMP Act to loan the pension plan funds annually, capping the annual loan amount at $600 million with a 1% interest rate. The fund will be required to pay interest for the first 10 years, paying back the principal plus interest over a 30-year period. The fund will also be required to certify annually that the plan is solvent and able to pay back both the principal and interest.

To view the text of the AMP Act, click here.

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