FUMO WRITES TO GOVERNOR REGARDING DRPA DISSOLUTION SUGGESTION
HARRISBURG, December 29, 2005 – State Senator Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia) today sent the attached letter to Governor Ed Rendell regarding a statement by the administration, cited in a news article, that Rendell might pursue legislation dissolving the Delaware River Port Authority.
Rendell is the Chairman of the DRPA Board of Commissioners. Fumo is the Commission appointee of Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, an ex-officio member.
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December 29, 2005
Edward G. Rendell
In a news article published today, a spokesperson for your administration said you would consider supporting legislation to dissolve the Delaware River Port Authority, due to a dispute over dredging of the river.
Although I have decided not to inject myself into the negotiations on this issue, I find that I must now speak out and at least say that such idle threats are not constructive. As the senior-most member of the Authority from ether side of the river, I have been through these kinds of skirmishes before. I know when enough is enough, and it is now time for everyone on both sides to sit down and discuss these issues in a levelheaded manner.
The dredging issue is not cut and dried, and reasonable people can disagree on what should be done. One thing is clear, however: the notion that Pennsylvania may unilaterally amend a joint state compact is incorrect.
The DRPA is the creation of a joint state agreement, otherwise known as a “compact” between the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislatures enacted reciprocal statutes in 1931 establishing the DRPA. However, in order for the reciprocal DRPA agreement to have the force of law, Congressional consent was required pursuant to the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution. Congress consented to the terms of the DRPA compact in 1932, and thereafter consented to amendments in 1952 and 1992. Accordingly, no state has the legal authority on its own to alter unilaterally the terms of a joint state compact such as the DRPA agreement.
Even the power of the Pennsylvania Governor and General Assembly are not unlimited.
Additionally, given the political make-up of the leadership of the two states, I believe allowing this dispute to drag on under a cloud of hostility, without seeking common ground that will produce a solution that is acceptable to both sides, is making the Democratic Party in the region look bad.
Therefore, I would hope that both sides will henceforth approach this dispute in a spirit of mutual cooperation. If there is anything I can do to facilitate this, please let me know.
Commissioner Robert W. Bogle