N.J. Senate approves changes to Port Authority public records bill

UPDATE (6/29/2015):   The governor signed the bill on June 29.  It is now law, effective upon signing.

UPDATE (6/26/2015):   S2183 passed through both houses of the Legislature on June 25, 2015.  It now heads back to the Governor!   Read more here:  http://njfog.org/2015/06/29/nj-lawmakers-pass-port-authority-open-records-bill/.

UPDATE (6/23/2015):    The NJ Senate brought S2183 a step closer to law on 5/18 by approving, upon first reading, changes required as part of a conditional veto, with a final vote scheduled for 6/25.  Then on to the NJ Assembly and the gov!  Read more about it on our legislation page:  http://njfog.org/legislation/#S2183  – NJFOG
—–

The Star Ledger / NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
May 18, 2015
By Steve Strunsky
(Full article here and re-posted below.)

TRENTON — The New Jersey Senate approved largely technical changes demanded by Gov Chris Christie to bi-state legislation subjecting the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the public records laws of both states, under a conditional veto by the governor in December.

Following Monday’s 35-0 vote to accept the governor’s changes, the Senate will now vote to approve the modified bill, before sending it on to the state Assembly, and ultimately, back to Christie’s desk for him to sign. The public records measure is among reform efforts by lawmakers in the wake of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.

The legislation must be adopted as law in New Jersey and New York because it pertains to the bi-state Port Authority. Lawmakers in New York had already approved their own bill incorporating the changes, and the amended legislation was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 13.

The legislation as originally approved provided that courts deciding on lawsuits filed against the Port Authority in the event of a records request being denied should weigh the request against whichever state law was more expansive, that is, more open to the request. The amended legislation exchanges that provision for one simply allowing plaintiffs to choose which state to sue in, eliminating the possibility that a judge from one state would have to interpret the public records law of the other.

The legislation’s New Jersey author, Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), said he had ‘no problem” with the amendment. Gordon said lawmakers in both states were also working on new versions of another Port Authority reform bill, vetoed outright by Christie and Cuomo in December, that involved reporting requirements, whistle blower protections and other provisions intended to enhance transparency and accountability.