Senate Transportation Committee Approves Rafferty DRPA Reform Measures

The Senate Transportation Committee today approved two measures sponsored by its Chairman 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 are long overdue and commonsense reforms that will guarantee greater accountability and openness to the DRPA, ensuring that it is responsive to its customers and to the states in which it operates,” Rafferty said.  “The DRPA plays a crucial role in providing safe and reliable transportation to many residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and our goal is to ensure that it is run efficiently and cost-effectively – without undue influence or conflicts of interests.  I’m pleased to take part, for the second session in a row, in this bipartisan, multi-state effort to ensure that the DRPA uses best practices in its business operation.”

Provisions of this legislation: SB 1358  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, 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;
  • Require current and prospective vendors to disclose a list of political contributions annually and for the prior four years;
  • 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, SB 1373, 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.

The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.

CONTACT: Nate Spade (717) 787-1398