Governor Josh Shapiro says Norfolk Southern has pledged several million dollars to cover the cost of last month’s train derailment.  The train was carrying toxic chemicals near the Pennsylvania border with Ohio.  The governor says he met with railroad officials Monday and got an initial commitment of five-million-dollars.  One-million would go to business owners and people who live in the area.  The funds also would reimburse fire departments in Lawrence and Beaver Counties for their equipment and help with on-going cleanup efforts from the spill.

A Pittsburgh law firm is filing a class-action suit over the train derailment in East Palestine. Attorneys with Lynch Carpenter are partnering with another legal practice, Seeger Weiss, to sue Norfolk Southern.  The litigation is filed on behalf of residents and business owners who are located within 30 miles of the crash site.  The suit argues that the rail company should have known that burning off hazardous chemicals would pose health risks for people nearby.  The attorneys are seeking monetary compensation and an award that would fund an ongoing medical monitoring program.

State Representative Mike Zabel, a Democrat from Delaware County, says he won’t resign his House seat as he’s being accused of sexual harassment.  But he is stepping away from a committee he was assigned to and turning the responsibility constituents’ service to his caucus.  A statement from his office says he’ll focus on his family, health and recovery.  His former campaign manager, Colleen Kennedy, accused the lawmaker of inappropriate touching while at a fundraiser in 2018.  Also, Andi Perez, the political director for an S-E-I-U group has publicly identified Zabel as the lawmaker who had sexually harassed her in 2019.

President Biden is set to unveil his upcoming budget proposal during a visit to Pennsylvania this week.  He’ll hold a campaign-style event Thursday in Philadelphia.  The White House says Biden will deliver remarks on his plans to “invest in America, continue to lower costs for families, protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, reduce the deficit and more.”  The President has hinted his proposal would cut the federal deficit by more than two-trillion-dollars over ten years.

Gas prices are steady in Western Pennsylvania this week at $3.767 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. In New Castle drivers are paying 3.68 a gallon while the average price in Sharon is at 3.64. Since last Monday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has increased by four cents to $3.40, which is still 12 cents less than a month ago and 28 cents less than a year ago.

Accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers appeared in court yesterday as the first phase of jury selection got underway.  Prosecutors say Bowers killed 11 people in an attack on the Squirrel Hill synagogue in October of 2018 and yesterday marked the first time he has appeared in court in more than four years.  In-person questioning of prospective jurors is scheduled to begin in April.

John Fetterman’s top aide says the Pennsylvania senator will be back on Capitol Hill soon.  The Democratic lawmaker and former Braddock mayor announced last month that he had checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of clinical depression.  Fetterman’s chief of staff on Monday released photos of the senator reviewing information on rail safety and other legislative concerns. 

A new state report says that lack of childcare is a growing problem in Pennsylvania.  The report was published Friday by the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, Start Strong PA and ReadyNation.  It cited that just five years ago, 17-percent of working parents said they quit a job due to insufficient child care.  In 2022, the figure grew to 29-percent.  Governor Shapiro also has hinted he will ask for more money for childcare providers in his budget proposal.  He says many are facing huge problems as federal aid for their business comes to a close after the pandemic.

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