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Bipartisan Vainieri Huttle Bill to Shine Light on the Port Authority Gains Final Legislative Approval

Bi-state, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to increase transparency at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was granted final legislative approval Thursday by the full Assembly and now heads back to Gov. Christie’s desk.

The measure was initially passed by the legislature late last year, but was conditionally vetoed by Christie in January to streamline the bill’s language based on recommendations from the bi-state Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority.

The bill (A-3350), approved unanimously, would require the agency to be subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act and the New York Freedom of Information Law, making its records readily accessible upon request for inspection, copying or examination.

“The Port Authority’s days of operating in darkness are over. Now, the agency has to do more than talk about being open to the public. It must actually adhere to the open records laws of New Jersey and New York,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Despite claims of changes at the Port Authority, the only way to ensure transparency is to enshrine it in law. This law will make access to information the norm, not the rare exception.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s operations include: Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, Kennedy, Stewart, Atlantic City and Teterboro airports; the Port of New York and New Jersey; the PATH mass transit system; the World Trade Center; and numerous bridges and tunnels, including the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.

“This is also an example of the reform that can be achieved when both states work together. We have proven that it can be done and we will do it again in enacting comprehensive transparency and accountability legislation,” added Vainieri Huttle.

The bill takes effect when New Jersey and New York enact substantively identical legislation. Since the changes have already been approved by the New York Legislature and signed by Gov. Cuomo, the law will go into effect once signed by Gov. Christie.