(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin, Annette Quijano, Thomas Giblin and Benjie Wimberly to abolish the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"We continue to have a sluggish employment market in the state, and need to take advantage of every opportunity to employ people and create a competitive port district," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). "The commission has served its purpose, but now it's time to move on. Abolishing the commission and transferring its responsibilities to the state police can provide the needed supervision without impeding economic prosperity."
The bill (A-2179) directs the Governor, on behalf of the State of New Jersey, to notify the Congress of the United States, the Governor of the State of New York, and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, of the state's intention to withdraw from the compact creating the commission, and repealing the compact establishing the commission and related statutes.
The bill would transfer the commission's functions and duties within the state to the New Jersey State Police. Those duties would include: processing applications filed by individuals and firms required to be registered or licensed to undertake port-related employment; supervising the hiring of longshoremen, checkers, and pier guards in the port; and making employment information available to these dock workers. The state police would be responsible for screening, registering, and licensing individuals who apply to work at the dock. In doing so, the state police would be authorized to deny or revoke the registration or licenses of those who involve themselves in criminal activity.
"While it served a purpose in the past, the commission and its restrictive oversight of hiring practices at the port has now become an impediment to economic growth," said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). "We cannot allow this at one of the busiest ports in the country. This bill allows for continued monitoring of port operations without the added red tape created by the commission."
"The port is at the mercy of the commission, which has created a labor shortage and slowed down commerce by interfering with the hiring process," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It is time to disband the commission and have the state police take care of the oversight duties at the port."
"The commission's stranglehold on our ports is hurting business at the port," said Quijano (D-Union). "While there is still a need to regulate this business to ensure fairness and safety, this job should not be done by the commission. Handing this responsibility over to the state police will ensure that business at the port is being conducted as it should be, without hampering progress."
The bill was approved by the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee.