The State Senate today unanimously approved two reform measures sponsored by Senator John Rafferty (R-44) that are part of a bi-state legislative package intended to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Delaware River Port Authority.
These bills are important in helping to bring long-needed changes, stricter guidelines and greater public scrutiny to this very important authority” Rafferty said. “They will help to provide greater accountability and openness to the DRPA, ensuring that it is responsive to its customers and to the states in which it operates.”
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale praised the Senate for passing legislation to implement the reform measures.
“I commend Senator Rafferty for leading the legislative push for much-needed reforms that will improve transparency, accountability and good governance at the Delaware River Port Authority, DePasquale said. “I will continue to fight for reforms at the DRPA and encourage the agency to focus on its sole mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable transportation.”
Provisions of Senate Bill 286 would:
- Prohibit the DRPA from engaging in economic development activity;
- Allow people to obtain public records from the agency via Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law or New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act;
- Restrict DRPA board member, officer and employee perks by prohibiting –
- Vehicle allowances, most toll exemptions and lump-sum expense allowances;
- Any personal lines of credit from DRPA;
- The acceptance of any gifts that could affect the conduct of DRPA business;
- Salaries to be higher than those of the Governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
- Prohibit political activity using DRPA time or resources;
- Prohibit DRPA officers and employees (at the director level and higher) from being employed by an entity that does business with DRPA for two years after the individual leaves DRPA service;
- Require biennial budget audits, biennial performance audits and a biennial review of compensation for all DRPA employees;
- Prohibit DRPA management from receiving their salaries until audits are complete;
- Prohibit officers and employees at the director level or higher from holding outside employment during their tenure at DRPA;
- Require board members to file financial interest statements and identify any potential conflicts of interest in writing in advance of board meetings;
- Prohibit any transaction or professional activity and engaging in any outside business that presents a conflict of interest with DRPA duties;
- Prohibit charitable contributions by board members and officers on behalf of DRPA;
- Provide 30 days public notice prior to any vote concerning a contract;
- Prohibit DRPA from negotiating, extending, amending or otherwise altering the terms of a contract, or entering into a contract, unless the action is taken by the DRPA board at a public meeting;
- Require the use of best practices in procurement and the acceptance of bid proposals online relating to the Commonwealth Procurement Code and all pertinent laws in New Jersey;
- Require current and prospective vendors to disclose a list of political contributions annually and for the prior four years; and
- Establish a Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) Commuter Council to study, investigate, monitor and make recommendations pertaining to the maintenance and operation of PATCO’s facilities for the transportation of passengers, including those with disabilities.
A second bill, Senate Bill 287, would require the DRPA Commissioners for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to transmit to the Governor of Pennsylvania a certified copy of the meeting minutes following each commission meeting. Within ten days of receipt of the transcript, the Governor is authorized to veto the actions of Pennsylvania’s Commissioners. Unlike New Jersey, Pennsylvania law does not currently vest the Governor with veto authority.
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Nolan Ritchie (717) 787-1398