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Pennsylvania Senate Moves to Tax-Exempt Aid for Train Derailment Victims

In response to the train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio, Pennsylvania’s state Senate has passed a bill to exempt federal and state aid payments to affected residents from personal income taxes. The proposed tax exemption, which was unanimously approved, applies to payments made after December 31, 2022, and is currently pending in the House.

Senator Doug Mastriano emphasized that the bill aims to help residents and small businesses keep more of their settlement money for essential expenses such as medical bills. The train incident, which occurred on February 3, 2023, involved a Norfolk Southern train derailment that led to a controversial controlled burn of vinyl chloride. This decision, which was meant to avert a larger explosion, resulted in a significant release of toxic chemicals, affecting the surrounding communities.

Further criticisms have been directed at the railroad for their handling of the incident and the lack of immediate transparency. Repeated tests have shown contamination in the local environment, leading to increased demands for medical and environmental support from the community.

In terms of financial settlements, Norfolk Southern has agreed to significant payments, including $310 million to cover cleanup costs after negotiations with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, the railroad settled a $600 million class action lawsuit to address claims within a 20-mile radius of the derailment site.

Pennsylvania Senators, including Elder Vogel and Michele Brooks, have voiced strong support for the tax exemption, recognizing the ongoing struggles of affected families and businesses. Brooks highlighted that while the tax break might have a minimal impact on state finances, it represents significant relief for those directly impacted by the derailment.

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Tammy Annette Robinson 1964-2024

For the past years, Tammy helped take care of her mother. She enjoyed watching game shows and listening to contemporary Christian music.

Robert William Gordon 1947-2024

Born August 18, 1947, a son of the late Merrill R. and Goldie E. Kotzmoyer Gordon, Bob liked to hunt and fish, and loved spending time with his family.

Janice Mae Keller 1938-2024

Janice always enjoyed shopping trips with her children and always used that opportunity to stop at her favorite restaurant, Olive Garden.

Ethel R. Smith 1935-2024

Ethel was a very loving and caring woman. She will always be remembered and cherished as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

Sharon M. Matthews 1951-2024

Sharon enjoyed game shows on TV, mostly Wheel of Fortune. She also liked watching the Food Network and talk about what they made.

Ralph V. Foltz 1928-2024

Ralph enjoyed hunting, telling stories, and traveling around the United States on bus trips, alongside his wife Lois.

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