Rock Products

DEC 2018

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Page 62 of 99 ROCKproducts • December 2018 • 61 LAW Henry Chajet is a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. He provides strategic counsel to clients, to prevent or reduce risks from situations of crisis and uncer- tainty, in environmental, employee health and safety, and antitrust law matters. He also represents clients in rulemaking and legislative proceedings, as well as in investigations and litiga- tion involving unfounded enforcement actions. Chajet is a member of Husch Blackwell's Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation team. Unless you've been off the grid (way off ) or maybe off planet, you know that the political campaigns are over and the elec- tion results are (almost) final. • If you are a Democrat, you might be pleased that the 2018 midterm elections have returned control of the 2019-2020 House of Representatives to your party. • If you are a Republican, you might be pleased that your party retained control of the Senate and even gained a few seats on the Democrats. Either way (and practically speaking), what you can expect from all of this is: (1) legislative gridlock; and (2) two years of sharply partisan oversight investigations and hearings in the House of Representatives. In the movie "Charlie Wilson's War," Congressman Charlie Wilson is asked, "Why is Congress saying one thing and doing nothing?" He responds: "Well, tradition mostly." It's a good joke, primarily because it's so close to the truth. In 2019-2020, tradition won't be the only reason for legisla- tive gridlock. With the House controlled by one party and the Senate controlled by the other, getting anything done in Washington over the next two years will be a lot more diffi- cult. Not impossible, but more difficult. In contrast, safe production at our nation's mines will thank- fully continue and hopefully increase, with help from the recent tax cuts, our healthy economy and President Trump's efforts to increase exports and trade with other countries on more favorable terms. Costly Delays However, delays in the Trump administration's promised regulatory reforms may be costly. There will be increased public criticism from mining opponents, and production cost increases from agency personnel seeking to institute their own initiatives, or those of their union and environmental allies. Agency personnel likely will seek to secure and grow their turf during a period of gridlock and potential agency cost cutting or reorganization. Democratic Party union and environmental movement sup- porters will oppose regulatory "roll backs," and reignite prior initiatives like mandated wage increases, labor law advantages and expanded health protection rules like diesel exhaust and chemical exposure controls. Pending mine safety issues that could be impacted include Obama era regula- tions on "pattern of violations," and work area inspections at metal/nonmetal mines. In addition Trump administration DOL/MSHA policy may seek to preempt expected Democratic criticism by "Blurring the Lines" (including expanded use of coal inspectors for non-coal mines), increased penalties, restricted penalty set- tlements and the expanded use of mine closure injunctions for tasks like penalty collections. If the mining industry's safety performance continues to improve, Congress likely will not focus on MSHA initially in 2019, but instead emphasize major issues that remain to be resolved regarding health care, immigration, government spending and ongoing investigations. But the chairman's gavel is a powerful tool. Should the industry suffer a major disaster or the agency trigger extreme union complaints, it could result in House oversight hearings, with the potential to further prompt MSHA actions, counterbalanced with White House and OMB appeals. Who Will Lead House Committees? Democrats must elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives Divided Government Here Are Some Mine Safety Law Predictions For 2019-2020. By Henry Chajet & Robert Horn Robert Horn is a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. With more than four decades of public and private sector experience, he provides insightful guid- ance on tariff, transportation and mining issues, particularly to international cli- ents. Horn helps clients advance their public policy and regulatory interests in the areas of health and safety, energy, environmental and economic develop- ment. He can be reached at

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