Pennsylvania gets same gubernatorial veto power over Delaware River Port Authority as New Jersey

A week after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed legislation aimed at reforming the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) Board of Commissioners, the General Assembly, perhaps clamoring for more legislative drama, gave the governor veto power over the DRPA Board of Commissioners.

The Senate passed H.B. 1087 48-0 on Tuesday, matching the House’s own unanimous vote at the start of the year. The bill gives Pennsylvania’s governor the authority to return the minutes of the DRPA board with a veto, matching a similar power enjoyed by the Governor of New Jersey since 1992.

 

Gov. Wolf is expected to sign the bill.

Gov. Chris Christie has used the veto twice: Once in 2010 to reject some employee perks, and more recently to force new union labor agreements to include larger employee contributions for health care.

In his support of Gov. Wolf’s veto of the reform bill, DRPA Chairman Ryan Boyer noted that it did not contain a veto provision over DRPA Board decisions.

The DRPA board consists of sixteen commissioners, eight from each state. New Jersey’s eight commissioners are selected by that state’s  governor for 10-year terms; all of the current New Jersey representatives on the DRPA board were selected by former Gov. Jon Corzine. Six of Pennsylvania’s commissioners serve at the pleasure of its governor. The Commonwealth’s treasurer and auditor general also sit on the DRPA board as by virtue of the offices they hold.

Given the veto imbalance, it has been an informal tradition on the DRPA Board to select a Pennsylvania commissioner as chair and a New Jersey commissioner to be vice-chair. The DRPA by-laws require the chair and vice-chair to come from different states, but does not specify which state gets to sit at the head of the boardroom table. Boyer hails from Philadelphia. Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash currently serves as vice-chair.

The bill takes effect immediately. The DRPA Compact provides for gubernatorial vetoes once authorized by each state’s legislature, meaning no additional laws will need to be passed by Trenton or by Congress, as would be necessary for other reforms to the bi-state authority.

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