Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved a $4.9 million dollar study of mesothelioma and taconite worker’s health Monday, after reaching a compromise with Range legislators. The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed at least 58 miners’ deaths due to mesothelioma.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty says he doesn’t approve of the funding source for research on mesothelioma among Iron Range workers. Iron Range lawmakers lobbied for and authored a bill that would take $4.9 million dollars out of the Worker’s Compensation Fund, for the studies. Pawlenty wants the money to come from Iron Range Resources. Range lawmakers said they plan on moving forward, with their version. This is another example of how delegating research funding to the states results in complications and political roadblocks that inhibit research to find better treatment and a cure for mesothelioma. The draft House legislation addressing an asbestos ban will also include research provisions to overcome these problems.
Funding for a study of mesothelioma and its connection to mining taconite is moving through the state House. Representative Tom Rukavina says Iron Rangers have been waiting 30 years to find out if taconite does, or does not, produce asbesto-like fibers that cause the cancer.
His funding bill was passed last week by the House’s Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy committee. If adopted, $4.9 million for the University of Minnesota study would come from the state Worker’s Compensation Fund. The bill has another House committee to clear before going to the floor for a vote. The Senate has yet to hold a hearing on the issue. The latest count from the state Health Department says 58 people in the area have died from mesothelioma.
Associated Press, March 2008.