Legislative efforts are underway in New Jersey to amend the state’s Open Public Records Act to bring the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey under its purview. The legislation (S-2292 and A-3400) follows the Appellate Division’s decision in Dittrich v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which held that the Port Authority could not be required to comply with a records request.
As we previously discussed on this Government & Law Blog, the court reasoned that because the Port Authority is an instrumentality of the two states, it is not considered an “agency” under OPRA. The statute’s current definition of public agency includes: “… any division, board, bureau, office, commission, or other instrumentality within or created by a political subdivision of the State or combination of political subdivisions, and any independent authority, commission, instrumentality or agency created by a political subdivision or combination of political subdivisions.”
The proposed bills would expressly add the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the above definition. The intra-state agency would also be added to OPRA’s definition of a “government record.”
Although a bill has been introduced to amend New Jersey’s public records law, a companion bill has not been introduced in New York. Both states would have to amend their laws in order to affect the change.
For additional information about New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, please contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Public Law Group.