Vitale Introduces Bill To Give Voice To Port Authority In Port Deals

Legislation Would Prohibit Deals Without Consent of Port Authority

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale introduced legislation today which would give the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey a greater voice in business deals between companies operating New Jersey ports.

“The recent controversy over a United Arab Emirates-controlled company buying a British-owned company that operates ports in New Jersey has unveiled a very real homeland security problem,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “The entire deal between Dubai Ports World and the British company, Peninsular, was approved through federal security checks under our radar, and New Jersey wasn’t given any knowledge of the deal until it hit the media. Considering that New Jerseyans are the ones who are going to have to live with the after-effects of insecurity at our ports, and that New Jersey resources will be used to defend and secure the ports, that we were left out of the approval process is unconscionable and inexcusable.”

Senator Vitale’s bill would prohibit any company under contract with the Port Authority from entering into a deal transferring rights or obligations under the contract to a different business entity, without prior written consent of the Port Authority. The bill makes exemptions for foreign-owned companies that have a preexisting business relationship with the Port Authority, and requires the Port Authority to conduct its own investigation into companies seeking to operate New Jersey ports before giving written consent.

“We have to accept that foreign interest in our ports is a given, but we need state input in deals that directly affect New Jersey’s residents,” said Senator Vitale. “Under the DP deal approved by the Federal government, one company is defaulting on its lease, and another company is being forced on the landlord, the Port Authority, without any input in the deal. While the DP deal might have passed Federal muster, New Jerseyans need to be assured that the deal is the right thing for the Garden State.”

The bill will likely go before the Senate Transportation Committee for approval before going on to the full Senate for consideration.