Maryland Senate committee passes Holocaust disclosure bill


(JTA) — A bill requiring recipients of state contracts to fully disclose their ties to any operation responsible for transporting people to Nazi concentration camps, was passed unanimously by a Maryland state Senate committee.

The Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee approved the bill, aimed at the French rail company known as SNCF, on March 3. The full state Senate is scheduled to take up the measure this week. A state House committee also heard testimony last week.

Holocaust survivors and their families testified before the committees last week in favor of the bill, which would prevent SNCF, through its subsidiary Keolis, to bid to run two lines of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter train service.

Keolis submitted a bid last July to the Maryland Transit Administration for a new five-year deal, but  the MTA canceled the bidding in the same month, saying the offer had not attracted enough competition. Bidding is expected to open again in the coming months, and both Keolis and CSX are likely competitors for the deal. CSX currently has the contract, which ends in 2012, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported .

SNCF trains transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to the German border from 1942 to 1944, and the company was paid per head per kilometer, according to reports. Critics say that since the war, the company has refused to apologize for its actions. 

The Maryland bill would in part require any entity and its majority owners pursuing a procurement contract with the Maryland Department of Transportation to provide train service to disclose what, if any, activity it undertook in the deportation of individuals to extermination camps or death camps during the period between Jan. 1, 1942 and Dec. 31, 1944. It also asks those companies to disclose any records in their possession and whether they have ever provided restitution or reparations, the Baltimore Jewish Times explains.

The California state Legislature passed a bill similar to the proposed Maryland one, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure. 

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