By Steve Strunsky NJ Advance Media
The legislative campaign for Port Authority reform took three steps forward on Thursday, including unanimous passage of a public records bill by the state Senate and Assembly amended to include changes sought by Gov. Chris Christie.
Across the Hudson River on Thursday, New York State Senators approved a structural reform bill endorsed by the governors that had been approved by the New York Assembly the day before and is now pending before New Jersey lawmakers.
Sponsors of the records bill in the Senate, which passed it 40-0, and the Assembly (75-0) called on Christie to sign the measure, which would make it the first Port Authority reform legislation to take effect in both states, with power over the agency, in the wake of the George Washington Bridge Lane closure scandal.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York signed identical legislation in March, meaning it would be law in both states, a requirement for Port Authority legislation.
"It's done," said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), a sponsor, referring to all but Christie's signature.
The legislation would give people denied public records by the Port Authority the option of suing the agency in either New York or New Jersey, wherever they believe the state records law offers them the best chance of prevailing.
Huttle said she expected Christie to sing the measure as early as Friday. Christie's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the records bill.
The structural reform bill would mandate a rotating chairmanship of the agency's board of commissioners between New York and New Jersey, and selection by the board of a single chief executive to run the agendy's day-to-day operations and projects in both states. It would also mandate certain reporting requirements, fiduciary oaths by board members and executives, and whistle blower protections.
Matching bills are pending in the New Jersey, introduced by the Senate minority leader, Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union), and then by Huttle in the Assembly.