Following $600 Million Settlement, Mastriano, Vogel and Brooks Introduce Bill to let East Palestine Train Derailment Victims Keep More Money

HARRISBURG – In the wake of the recent $600 million settlement reached by Norfolk Southern in its class-action lawsuit related to its train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last year, state Sens. Doug Mastriano (R-33), Elder Vogel, Jr. (R-47), and Michele Brooks (R-50) today introduced legislation to provide a state tax deduction for Pennsylvanians who receive payments.

“Ohio has already established a deduction for their residents who received payments and I believe it’s fair to do the same for Pennsylvanians.,” said Mastriano, who serves as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, hosted a hearing immediately following the train wreck, and subpoenaed Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw to appear before the committee. “Businesses have been shuttered, property values have plummeted, and personal medical expenses continue to accrue. This tax deduction will help put more money back into the pockets of the victims.”

Mastriano, Vogel and Brooks today introduced Senate Bill 1149 to provide a state income tax deduction for disaster relief payments provided to Pennsylvania residents by a government agency, Norfolk Southern or an insurer as the result of the Feb. 3, 2023, train wreck. The deduction would also be retroactive to any payments received by victims in 2023.

“I am pleased to be partnering with Sen. Mastriano and Sen. Brooks on this legislation,” Vogel said. “There are many residents still having to deal with negative, residual effects from the derailment, which have caused increased financial burdens on these hurting families. Through our proposal of establishing a state tax deduction for Pennsylvania residents who have or will receive future disaster relief payments, we aim to help alleviate some of the financial stress they are experiencing and continue to help these families as we navigate further through the aftermath of this tragic accident.”

The train wreck took place just across the western border of Pennsylvania and was followed two days later on Feb. 5, 2023, by the planned ignition and burning of five railroad cars carrying dangerous chemicals. The toxic plume resulted in residents reporting various medical problems including rashes, burning lips, sore throats, itchy eyes and other skin irritations. Residents reported additional medical concerns at a follow-up hearing held last month by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

“I’m committed to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to provide meaningful help to the hurting residents affected by this train wreck,” Brooks said. “This bill would enable these families to keep more of the money that is intended to help them begin to try to move on from this incident. I believe this tax deduction is the responsible thing to do for these residents.”

Senate Bill 1149 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Mastriano contact: Josh Herman

Vogel contact: Abby Chiumento

Brooks contact: Adam Gingrich

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