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Wayne Post
  • Senate, House approve bills to distribute funds to families of West Webster firefighters

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  • WASHINGTON — It's been almost a year since the West Webster tragedy on Christmas Eve and still, close to a $1 million in donations have not been given to the families of the firefighters who were killed and wounded.
    It's all because of an IRS law. On Thursday, Sen. Chuck Schumer got Senate approval to change that law as part of a joint effort with Schumer and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport. The legislation passed in the House today (Dec. 13), and it will then go to back to the Senate and finally to the president for final approval.
    When this tragedy happened nearly a year ago, thousands of people donated money to help the families of those killed and injured. The funds raised were supposed to go to the families of Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, who were killed, as well to families of Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter, who were wounded during the attack.
    The problem has been the West Webster Fire Department is a non-profit and an IRS law pertaining to non-profits prevents the department from distributing money "directly" to the victims and families without putting its "tax exempt" status at risk.
    Also under the current law, if families received money, they would have to pay taxes on it. Schumer said the Senate has done its part and he's thrilled all one hundred senators supported the legislation.
    "I told them I know we have a lot of fighting going on here in Washington, but to allow this legislation to pass and these four families to get close to a million dollars that generous donors sent in because they felt so about the tragedy is in keeping with the Christmas spirit."
    The offices of Slaughter and Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said the bill to assist the families of the West Webster victims has been passed in the House.
    "There are no words that can heal the wounds suffered by Ted Scardino and Joe Hofstetter, and nothing we can do to bring back Mike “Chip” Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka,” Slaughter said. “But by passing today’s legislation we can help lessen their burden, ease their pain, and prove that even in our darkest hours, our country will be there to support our public servants, their families, and communities in need.”
    Reed, who was a co-sponsor of the bill issued this statement: “Coming up on the one year anniversary of this heinous act, we can remember and honor the memory and sacrifice of these volunteer responders by caring for the victims and their families,” Congressman Reed said. “We can’t erase what happened but we can help ease the burden with the generosity of Americans across the country who heard of the tragedy and donated. I am proud to partner with my colleague from New York, Rep. Slaughter on this necessary piece of legislation.”

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