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Senate panel advances Sandy transparency bills

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Legislative Democrats are moving to ensure Hurricane Sandy relief money is well spent.

Stephen M. Sweeney

A Senate committee on government, wagering, tourism and preservation today released two bills aimed at boosting oversight of the state's Hurricane Sandy cleanup.

One proposal, championed by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-East Orange), among others, would authorize the state treasurer to deploy "integrity monitors" to oversee state contractors working on Sandy recovery.

Another proposal, put forth in the Senate by Budget Chair Paul Sarlo (D-Wood Ridge) and in the Assembly by Budget Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus), Oliver, and others, would implement a number of transparency requirements on Sandy money. The bill would require the creation of a website to track Sandy aid spending and contracts. It also mandates quarterly reports on funding, and expedited reports whenever problems are uncovered.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) said the bills go a long way toward "giving comfort to the public that everything we're doing, and the administration is doing, is appropriate — and if it's not, that we've got ways of looking at it."

For his part, Gov. Chris Christie two weeks ago announced his own set of controls, including asking state Comptroller Matthew Boxer to conduct a review of the state's Sandy procurement processes, and establishing "accountability officers" in each state government department that deals with Sandy aid.

During a press conference announcing the measures, Christie said he was open to considering additional transparency proposals like the ones approved today.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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