Assembly Passes Port Authority Reform Bill

Alyana Alfaro, Politicker NJ

TRENTON – The New Jersey Assembly voted to pass A2184, a bill related to the transparency and accountability of the Port Authority. The bill (S708) passed the Senate in February.

A similar bill, S355, was put forward by state Senator Tom Kean and senate Republicans. That bill has already been approved by the New York legislature. However, Democratic senators in New Jersey felt that the bill lacked legislative oversight. That decision spurred Senators Loretta Weinberg and Bob Gordon to put forward a similar bill that they felt had sufficient oversight provisions.

According to Republican Senator Tom Kean, the move to make the newly passed version of the Port Authority reform bill law will not come to fruition due to lack of support on either side of the Hudson. He was the sponsor of S355 in the New Jersey Senate.

“There is no consensus support for the proposal that New Jersey Democrats are pushing, and it has zero chance of becoming law,” said Kean in a statement. “Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto merely need to schedule a vote for my bill to advance to Governor Christie’s desk and become law, as it already has in New York, to allow for the Port Authority’s restructuring. What are we waiting for?”

The assembly version of Weinberg/Gordon’s bill was sponsored by the following assemblypeople: Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), John S. Wisniewski (D-19), Joseph A. Lagana (D-38), Tim Eustace (D-38) and Amy Handlin (D-13). It was cosponsored by John McKeon (D-27).

“Trying to get identical legislation agreed upon and passed in both houses of two separate legislatures is no easy feat, especially legislation that remains true to our intent and tackles our main goals.  But after a lengthy, multi-year process, I’m confident that we’ve come to an agreement that does just that,” said Vainieri Huttle in a statement.  “This legislation is comprehensive in nature and tackles the key elements that we have been concerned with – incorporating legislative oversight, fiscal safeguards, transparency and accountability.  Cumulatively, these provisions will help transform an agency once mired in waste, abuse and scandal into one that operates with the best interests of tri-state commuters in mind.”

The vote was 67 ‘yes’ votes, 0 ‘no’ votes and 6 abstentions. The bill will now head to Governor Chris Christie’s desk.