By David Cruz
With Lady Liberty as a not too subtle backdrop, lawmakers from New York and New Jersey announced their intention to pass identical bills ordering the Port Authority to not comply with the president’s executive orders.
“We consider President Trump’s executive order to be unconstitutional, illegal and immoral and an affront to the principles upon which our nation was founded and to the principles that made and continue to make America great,” said Sen. Bob Gordon.
The bi-state agency runs the major airports, bridges, seaports and mass transportation systems in the region. It has a police force of more than 2,000 officers, the 25th largest police force in the country. The bill is sponsored in New York by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Sen. Michael Gianaris, of Queens, and in New Jersey by Democratic Sens. Loretta Weinberg, Gordon and Sandra Cunningham. It would order agency officials to refuse to use any of the Port Authority resources to comply with the president.
“As everybody knows, our airports are controlled by the Port Authority. They control the land, they control the facilities, their personnel work in these airports and we are trying to pass legislation that would prohibit the Port Authority personnel from participating in the enforcement of this order, prohibit the facilities of the Port Authority from being used and prohibit even any resources of the port. So if the federal government somehow has control of a room that they’re using but the electricity or the climate control comes from the Port Authority, that too should be shut off,” Gianaris said.
Because the Port Authority is a bi-state agency, any laws governing its operation need to be identical and pass both houses in both states. Which is not easy to do, but, in the wake of the GWB scandal, both houses in both states did exactly that, passing comprehensive Port Authority reform legislation.
Unfortunately for them, both governors in both states vetoed the bills and there hasn’t been much action on that front since. So what’s to stop Gov. Chris Christie from taking a veto pen to this bill? Weinberg says she has hope.
“Hopefully, he will see that there is more wrong with this than the rollout. The content is what is wrong and perhaps he will listen to what I think is an overwhelming majority of his constituents, so we’ll see, David. As you know I’m never in the position of predicting what Gov. Christie’s going to do,” she said.
The bill was introduced in New York on Monday and is expected to make it onto the New Jersey legislative agenda as early as next Monday, after which its fate is, at best, uncertain and, at worst, doomed.