Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -
Assembly Republicans Ask Speaker To Launch Policy Conversation
To Fix Bi-State Agencies Before Bad Habits Return
Assembly Republicans Amy Handlin, Michael Patrick Carroll and Holly Schepisi sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto this afternoon urging him to open Assembly discussions to reform the way bi-state agencies, such as the Port Authority, operate.
“Immediate reforms are necessary,” said Handlin. “I’m sure the high profile of the legislative probe has caused people to change their behavior and second guess questionable ‘business as usual’ practices at the Port Authority. However, that atmosphere can dissipate quickly and bad habits can return.”
The three GOP members of the Legislative Select Committee on Investigation (SCI) sponsored legislation last week offering possible solutions to the way bi-state authorities are structured, overseen, and made more transparent to the public.
“We need an honest discussion with members from both sides of the aisle. By addressing the abuses we already understand, we can identify areas of agreement and begin to apply standards of good government that establish much needed oversight and accountability,” concluded Handlin.
A copy of the letter sent to Speaker Prieto today follows this release.
The bills proposed by Republicans include:
• A-2856 – Establishes a single chain of command with fixed terms for the Port Authority’s executive director and deputy executive director and requires approval from governors of both New Jersey and New York prior to the employment of the directors.
• A-2858 – Requires bi-state authorities to provide advance written notice of any operation or project that is expected to impede the free flow of traffic.
• A-2887 – Requires a code of ethics and an acknowledgement by authority board members that they understand their fiduciary responsibilities. It also requires the implementation of audit recommendations and financial disclosure for each board member and subjects each authority to the state’s Open Public Records Act.
• A-2886 – Establishes an Office of the Investigator General within each of four bi-state authorities appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate for one term of 10 years.
• A-2857 – Facilitates public disclosure of financial and employee information through the state comptroller regarding revenues, expenses, and debts; number of employees; annual employee compensation; data on pension payments of former employees; and the name and amount of compensation paid to any governmental affairs agent hired.
• A-2855 – Establishes a new crime of official interference with transportation punishable up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
March 7, 2014
Honorable Vincent Prieto
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly
1249 Paterson Plank Rd.
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Dear Speaker Prieto,
We are committed to working with you and our Democrat colleagues to enact a bipartisan package of bills reforming independent and bi-state authorities without further delay.
The Legislative Select Committee on Investigation (SCI) was formed to get at the truth of who did what to cause the infamous lane diversions at the George Washington Bridge, but more importantly to find solutions so things like this won’t happen again.
We recognize the investigation of these matters needs to continue and that additional legislation might be required at the conclusion of the committee’s work. However, based on what the committee has uncovered already, we can and should move forward so that a framework is in place that enables the Port Authority to address our commuters’ needs today in a way our citizens expect and deserve.
As you know, Republican members of the committee have outlined what we believe are key reforms and have introduced a number of bills aimed at enhancing accountability and transparency. It’s a starting point for reform. It is also an opportunity to come together in a bipartisan way and begin the discussion that will accomplish a much greater good.
For years, Democrats and Republicans have been urging an overhaul of bi-state authorities. Many of the reforms we have outlined are not new solutions, but their importance has only been underscored by recent events. There may be others or even new ideas we should consider. That is why this discussion is so important and should begin today.
Working together, we are confident we will pass comprehensive reform in the very near future. We look forward to hearing any comments and questions you may have as we earnestly discuss how to proceed and what steps to take. Thank you.
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin
Assemblyman Michael P. Carroll
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi