N.J. Assembly OKs Port Authority reform bill stemming from GWB lane closures

BY DUSTIN RACIOPPI -STATE HOUSE BUREAU | THE RECORD

The state Assembly passed a bill to reform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, bringing the bi-state agency another step closer to stronger scrutiny and more transparency after last year’s George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.

The agency’s overhaul would be accomplished through more than a dozen measures included in the bill, an identical version of which passed the Senate in September.

Those measures include protection for whistleblowers and an inspector general to investigate claims of corruption.

The agency, for years accused of wasteful spending, will also be required to submit a detailed, balanced budget and undergo independent efficiency audits to identify waste and abuse. The agency would also have to conduct at least six public hearings before voting on proposed fare and toll increases at its Hudson River crossings.

In urging her colleagues to vote for the bill, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, said “the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has represented the worst in government” well before it was discovered that high-ranking officials at the agency were involved in the crippling four-day lane closures at the bridge.

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 74-0. In September, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 38-0.

Identical bills already passed both houses in the New York state legislature in June and await the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. With Thursday’s approval by New Jersey’s assembly, the bills now head to Governor Christie for approval. Both governors must sign off on the bills in order for them to take effect. 

Email: racioppi@northjersey.com