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Maryland legislators take a pass on railway reparations bill

(JTA) — Maryland lawmakers failed to vote on a bill that would have required the French rail firm SNCF to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors in order to work on a new line.

The bill did not progress past committee hearings in the state legislature, according to the Washington Post. The 2014 legislative session ended Monday night.

State Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat, in February introduced legislation in the state Senate that would have required SNCF, whose U.S. affiliate Keolis America is bidding for a 35-year, $6 billion public-private partnership contract to operate the Purple Line, a 16-mile rail line, to pay reparations to Holocaust survivors or their descendants.

SNCF, a government-owned company, operated the trains during World War II that transported more than 75,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to Nazi concentration camps. The rail firm was paid per person per kilometer to provide the trains, cars and manpower.

Under the proposed legislation, companies wishing to enter into a public-private partnership in Maryland would have had to disclose its involvement or that of its affiliated companies in the deportations and whether or not reparations have been paid.

The New York, Florida and California legislatures also have considered laws that would bar SNCF from obtaining state contracts until it pays reparations to survivors now living in the United States.

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