GORDON-WEINBERG BILL TO SUBJECT PORT AUTHORITY TO STATE OPRA LAWS ADVANCES

TRENTON — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would be subject to the open record laws of the two states under a bill sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senator Loretta Weinberg that passed the Senate today.

The legislation approved today includes technical changes recommended by the governor. It is a counterpart to legislation approved by the New York Legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo in December. Once signed by Governor Christie, both laws would become effective.

Under the bill, S-2183, the Port Authority would be required to abide by the Open Public Records Act of New Jersey and the Freedom of Information Law of New York. Although the Port Authority adopted new policies and procedures concerning public access to its records late last year, the public does not have recourse to challenge the agency in the courts if the requested documents are not provided, because the authority is not subject to either state’s open records law. Under this bill, the Port Authority is deemed an “agency” for purposes of New York’s Freedom of Information law and a “public agency” for purposes of New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

“Without access to records, the public cannot properly hold the Port Authority — or any other government agency — accountable for its actions. The residents and commuters of each state deserve access to information about the decisions being made by the Port Authority and the way their toll dollars are being spent,” said Gordon. “This helps to bring some accountability to the agency, but more reforms are needed. I will continue to work with my colleagues on real reforms that will overhaul this agency, and ensure New Jersey’s residents and our state’s interests are protected.”

“This is a necessary reform that will shine much-needed sunlight on the operations of the Port Authority, but it is just one step in the process to bring long-term and sustainable change to the agency,” said Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Additional reforms are needed that will bring to the Port Authority the type of accountability that the public demands, and we are committed to making sure that happens.”

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 40-0. It next advances to the Assembly before heading to the governor for his signature.