CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A West Virginia Senate committee has amended and unanimously approved a bill that would toughen the penalties on coal mine protesters.The bill advanced Tuesday would make it a felony to damage or remove any equipment from a coal facility that could be construed as promoting health or safety. It would be punishable by up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The amended version of the bill is much less harsh than the original version. The original would have instituted a fine of $500 to $1,000 for trespassing on a coal mine. Trespassing on regular private property is punishable by a fine of $100.It would have made graffiti on a coal mine a felony and mandated a minimum of one year in jail.