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  • NJ A1915
  • Reforms PANYNJ.
Introduced
(1/27/2016)
In Committee
(1/27/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill establishes various reforms to the operation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (port authority). Appointment of Commissioners This bill authorizes the New Jersey Legislature to appoint two port authority commissioners, the New York Legislature to appoint two commissioners, and the Citizens Advisory Committee, created by this bill, to appoint one port authority commissioner from New Jersey and one from New York. Under the bill, the number of commissioners appointed by each governor decreases from six to three. The Senate President, Speaker of the General Assembly, and Citizens Advisory Committee are each authorized to appoint one commissioner from New Jersey. The Senate President would appoint a commissioner upon the expiration of an office of a commissioner next following the enactment of the bill, the Speaker of the General Assembly would appoint a commissioner upon the second expiration of an office of a commissioner, and the Citizens Advisory Committee would appoint a commissioner upon the third expiration of an office of a commissioner. Open Meetings The bill prohibits the port authority from holding a meeting unless adequate notice has been provided to the public. In addition, the bill provides that all meetings of the port authority are open to the public at all times, except under certain limited circumstances. The port authority is required to keep reasonably comprehensible minutes of all its meetings showing the time and place, the members present, the subjects considered, the actions taken, and the vote of each member and to make that information available to the public. Freedom of Information/Open Public Records The bill subjects the port authority to the provisions of New York's Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey's open public records act. If a record of the port authority is subject to public access under the laws of either the State of New York or the State of New Jersey, but not subject to public access under the laws of the other state, the record is to be made readily accessible, upon request, for inspection, copying, or examination. A person who is denied access to a government record by the custodian of the record may: (1) institute a proceeding to challenge the custodian's decision in court; or (2) file a complaint with the Government Records Council established in New Jersey law. The port authority has the burden of proving that the denial of access is authorized by law. If it is determined that access has been improperly denied, the court or the Government Records Council shall order that access be allowed, and a requestor who prevails in any proceeding shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees. Appointments The bill provides that the board of commissioners is to select the chairperson and vice chairperson to serve for concurrent two-year terms. The chairperson and vice chairperson are not to be appointees from the same state. The chair and vice-chair positions are to rotate between appointees from New York and New Jersey. A commissioner is not to be bound by any recommendation for a chairperson or vice chairperson that may be made by the governor or legislature of either state. The bill further provides that the board of commissioners is to select an executive director following a thorough and deliberative national search to fill the position. The executive director is to serve a term of five years and may be reappointed. The executive director, with the approval of the board of commissioners, may appoint other officers and employees, including a deputy executive director who is to be appointed by and report to the executive director. Governor's Veto of Minutes The bill removes provisions in the current compact which allow each state to provide for veto by the governor over any action of any commissioner from the governor's state. Mission The current compact which oversees the port authority does not provide an explicit mission for the port authority. The bill provides that the mission of the port authority is to facilitate the movement of cargo, vehicles, and people and to construct terminal, transportation, and other facilities of commerce in the port district. The bill also requires the executive director and the chairperson of the port authority to evaluate each current port authority project and execute a written certification of whether the project supports the port authority's mission. If the executive director and the chairperson determine that a current port authority project does not support the port authority's mission, the port authority is required to develop a plan to divest itself of the project. Cost Benefit Analysis Under the bill, the port authority is required to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for all proposed projects. The cost-benefit analysis is to include, but not be limited to: the reason for the project; a list of project alternatives; the anticipated economic benefits of the project including any expected job creation benefits; and the anticipated direct and indirect costs of the project to all stakeholders. Reporting The bill subjects the port authority to additional reporting requirements. Specifically, the port authority is to submit to the governor, the state comptroller, and the legislatures of each state, and to the members of the transportation committees of both houses of both legislatures in both states, within 90 days after the end of the port authority's fiscal year, a complete and detailed report. This report is to include, but not be limited to: (1) financial reports including audited financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, grant and subsidy programs, operating and financial risks, current ratings of its bonds, and long-term liabilities; (2) at a minimum, a five-year financial plan, including a current and projected capital budget, and an operating budget report; (3) a schedule of port authority bonds and notes outstanding at the end of the port authority's fiscal year, together with a statement of the amounts redeemed and incurred during such fiscal year; and (4) an analysis of the likelihood of future toll increases. In addition, the port authority is required to annually review its operations to determine whether port authority costs and expenses can be reduced by entering into agreements with private entities to conduct certain port authority operations or provide services on behalf of the port authority, as identified in the port authority's review. The port authority is to report the findings of its review to the governors, legislatures, and to the members of the transportation committees of both houses of both legislatures in both states. Fiduciary Oath The bill requires each member of the port authority board to perform the duties of a board member in good faith and with that degree of diligence, care, and skill which an ordinarily prudent person in similar position would exercise under similar circumstances. At the time that the board member takes and subscribes the oath of office, the board member is to execute an acknowledgement of the board member's role, fiduciary duty, duty of loyalty and care to the port authority, and commitment to the port authority's mission and the public interest. Conflicts of Interest Every member of the board of commissioners is required to agree to disclose to the board any conflicts, or the appearance of a conflict, of a personal, financial, ethical, or professional nature that could inhibit the commissioner from performing the commissioner's duties in good faith and with due diligence and care. The commissioner is required to annually certify that the commissioner does not have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the commissioner's duties in the public interest. The bill also prohibits a commissioner from voting on, or participating in any board or committee discussions with respect to, any agenda item if the commissioner, a member of the commissioner's immediate family, or a business organization in which the commissioner has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial involvement that may reasonably be expected to impair the board member's objectivity or independence of judgment or to create the appearance of impropriety. The commissioner is to be recused from any discussions or voting on the agenda item. In addition, the bill prohibits New York and New Jersey from appointing a person to be a commissioner of the port authority if: that person has any interest in, or is employed by, any partnership, firm, corporation, or other entity that engages in any business, transaction, or professional activity with, or incurs any obligation of any nature with the port authority, the State of New York, the State of New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or the New Jersey Transit Corporation. A person appointed as a commissioner of the port authority is prohibited from having any interest in or from being employed by a partnership, firm, corporation, or other entity that engages in any business, transaction, or professional activity or incurs any obligation of any nature with the port authority, the State of New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or the New Jersey Transit Corporation at any time during the person's term as a commissioner and for a period of two years commencing on the date the person's term on the board of commissioners terminates. Financial Disclosures Under the bill, commissioners of the port authority are required to file annual financial disclosure statements. Each statement is to contain a certification that it is correct and complete and that the person has not transferred and will not transfer any asset, interest, or property for the purpose of concealing it from disclosure while retaining an equitable interest therein. The failure of any person to comply with these requirements constitutes good cause for the person's removal from office. In addition, the enforcement provisions of New York's Public Officers Law and New Jersey's Conflicts of Interest Law, as applicable, apply. Hearings to be Held Before Toll or Fare Increase The bill requires the port authority to hold at least 10 public hearings not less than 60 days prior to adoption by the port authority of any increase in any fee, toll, charge, or fare for the use of the transportation facilities of the port authority. At least one hearing is to be held in each county in New York and New Jersey directly affected by the proposed increase. Each public hearing is to be attended by the executive director and at least two of the commissioners appointed from each state. No more than one public hearing may be held in a single day, and at least one-half of the public hearings shall be scheduled to begin after 6:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on a weekday. If the authority votes to increase any fee, toll, charge, or fare for the use of a port authority transportation facility, the bill provides that the increase may not go into effect until, at minimum, 90 days following the date of adoption of the increase. Appearance Before the Legislature The port authority, at the request of either house of the state legislature of either New York or New Jersey, is required to appear before a committee of the requesting state legislature to present testimony on any topic or subject requested by the committee. The port authority is also required to respond to questions by members of the committee and to produce any books, papers, accounts, records and documents requested in writing by the committee. Advance Notice of Certain Projects The bill requires the port authority to provide advance notice of any planned project or operation which is expected to impede the normal operation of any port authority facility by: (1) providing advance written notice to the mayor and municipal emergency management coordinator in every municipality within five miles of the facility; (2) providing advance notification of the project or operation to newspapers of general circulation in each county and municipality in which the transportation facility is located; and (3) using variable message signs to inform motorists of any operation which is expected to impede the free flow of traffic. State of Good Repair The bill requires the port authority to establish a system for determining whether each of its transportation facilities and railroads is in a state of good repair. The system is to include an analysis including the age, condition, investment needs, maintenance costs, availability, capability, and reliability of each facility and railroad and to categorize each facility and railroad as a high, medium, or low priority based upon that analysis. The port authority is required to issue an annual report of each facility and railroad with its categorization and for high priority projects, the port authority is required to identify the projects necessary to reduce the priority to low or medium. Beginning two years after the bill's enactment, the port authority is prohibited from voting to approve any new project if it has not included each high priority transportation facility or project in its capital plan. Redefining Port District The bill requires the port authority to review the current boundaries of the port district provided in the compact and to prepare a report proposing new boundaries for the port district. The proposed new boundaries are to include, but not be limited to, all areas of New Jersey and New York where facilities currently owned or operated by the port authority are located and any other area in New Jersey or the New York metropolitan area that supports the interstate movement of cargo, vehicles, or people, including, but not limited to, areas in Bergen, Middlesex, and Monmouth Counties in New Jersey and the Borough of Staten Island in New York, not currently included within the boundaries of the port district. Citizens Advisory Committee The bill also establishes the Citizens Advisory Committee to the port authority. The citizens advisory committee is to consist of 18 members who each serve for a two-year term and are selected by the port authority board of commissioners. The members of the citizens advisory committee are to be as follows: (1) One representative from the New Jersey Transit Corporation; (2) One representative from the New York City Transit Authority; (3) One representative from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; (4) One representative from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; (5) One representative of the pilotage services industry; (6) One representative of the cruise operations and passenger ship industry; (7) Two representatives of the port shipping industry, one from New Jersey and one from New York; (8) Two representatives of the railroad industry, one from New Jersey and one from New York; (9) Two representatives of railroad passengers, one from New Jersey and one from New York; (10) Two representatives of longshoremen and waterfront labor, one from New Jersey and one from New York; (11) Two representatives of warehouses and distribution centers, one from New Jersey and one from New York; and (12) Two representatives of transportation workers, operators, fabricators, and laborers, one from New Jersey and one from New York. The goal of the citizens advisory committee is to act as an independent representative and advocate on behalf of the users and potential users of port authority facilities and of the several industries that operate within the port district. The citizens advisory committee is authorized to: receive and review comprehensive plans, capital and operating budgets, current and proposed rate structures, and other matters of concern to all persons served by the port authority; seek to advise the port authority board of commissioners prior to actions being taken on the foregoing; formulate proposals, suggestions, and plans to be submitted to the port authority board of commissioners; and solicit and receive public input concerning the port authority. Members of the citizens advisory committee are permitted to attend, and required to be granted admission to, all meetings of the port authority board of commissioners. The port authority board of commissioners is required to allocate a reasonable amount of time for each agenda item at each meeting of the board of commissioners for each member of the citizens advisory committee who wishes to advise the board of commissioners concerning the agenda item. In addition, the citizens advisory committee will select one person from New York and one person from New Jersey to serve on the port authority board of commissioners. Inspector General This bill establishes the Office of the Inspector General (office) in, but not of, the port authority. The office is to be directed by an Inspector General who is to be appointed upon joint recommendation of the governors of New Jersey and New York. The Inspector General is to serve for one term of six years and until a successor is appointed and has qualified. The Inspector General is to devote full time to the duties and responsibilities of the office. The bill provides the powers and duties of the office which is to conduct routine, periodic, and random audits of the port authority and to conduct assessments of the performance and management of programs of the port authority and the extent to which the port authority is achieving its goals and objectives. The bill authorizes the Inspector General to: 1) establish a full-time program of audit and performance review, designed to provide increased accountability, integrity, and oversight of the port authority; and 2) audit and monitor the process of soliciting proposals for, and the process of awarding, contracts made by the port authority that involve a significant consideration or expenditure of funds or are comprised of complex or unique components, or both, as determined by the Inspector General. The bill authorizes the Inspector General to conduct audits and reviews and propose and enforce remediation plans for the port authority, that are found by the Inspector General to have deficient practices or procedures. The Inspector General is to conduct audits and reviews in accordance with prevailing national and professional standards, rules, and practices relating to those audits and reviews in government environments, including the standards for performance reviews utilized by the United States Government Accountability Office or its successor, and the Inspector General is to ensure that the office remains in compliance with those standards, rules, and practices. The bill empowers the office to issue subpoenas to compel attendance and testimony of persons and the production of books, papers, correspondence, and other documents in its investigations of any allegations of fraud, corruption, waste, and abuse at the port authority. The Inspector General is to report the findings of audits and reviews performed by the office, and issue recommendations for corrective or remedial action, to the governors of New Jersey and New York and to the members of the transportation committees of each house of the legislature in each state. The port authority is to fully cooperate with the Inspector General to develop recommendations for a corrective or remedial action plan. The Inspector General is to monitor the implementation of those recommendations and conduct a subsequent review to determine whether there has been full implementation and continued compliance with those recommendations. The Inspector General is to provide annual reports to the governors and legislatures of New Jersey and New York. The reports are to be available to the public. The reports are to include, but not be limited to, the reporting of any programmatic deficiencies and weaknesses that the Inspector General's audits, investigations, and reviews have found, and detailing the efforts by, or the failure of, the port authority to implement a recommended plan for corrective or remedial action. Whistleblower Protections The bill establishes "whistleblower" protections for employees of the port authority similar to those found in the "Conscientious Employee Protection Act." Government Liaison The bill requires the board of commissioners of the port authority to appoint an employee of the port authority to the position of Government Liaison. The duties and the responsibilities of the Government Liaison are to include, but not be limited to, receiving all originating correspondence from a public entity, including, but not limited to, the governors of New Jersey and New York, and the members of the legislatures of both states, to the port authority and all originating correspondence from the port authority to a public entity. All records kept and maintained by the Government Liaison are to be subject to New York's Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey's open public records act. Airport Operation Outside Port District Finally, the bill repeals the sections of law which permitted the port authority to effectuate, establish, acquire, construct, rehabilitate, improve, maintain, and operate air terminals outside of the port district The bill is to take effect upon enactment of substantially similar legislation by the State of New York.
Transportation and Independent Authorities
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified