Democrats urge Assembly speaker to post Atlantic City bill
Several Democratic state lawmakers want Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to post a bill that would allow the state to take control of Atlantic City's government.
Twelve Assembly members from southern New Jersey signed a letter that Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald sent to Prieto this weekend. It cites the dangers of not passing the legislation, such as city workers not getting paid as the seaside gambling resort moves closer to bankruptcy.
"State government must be given the tools to implement the change of direction that is required to avoid disaster. That is why this legislation is required," Greenwald wrote. "These unprecedented circumstances force us to take equally unprecedented action.
Prieto opposes the measure because it would allow the state to end collective bargaining agreements. The speaker has called on the Christie administration to negotiate a compromise, but Greenwald voiced concern about what Prieto's next step would be if the Republican governor refuses that offer.
"I welcome the input and it's safe to say everyone shares the concern about a bankruptcy, but the governor already has sufficient authority to save the city from financial disaster," Prieto said Sunday. "I expect the governor to act and I expect to protect collective bargained rights."
Several other Democrats released statements last week supporting Prieto's stance of supporting collective bargaining, as did the national and state chapters of the AFL-CIO.
The takeover would strip Atlantic City of most of its power and give the state the right to break contracts, dissolve agencies and sell off city assets and land.
The takeover has already passed in the state Senate with a bipartisan majority. Greenwald expects similar results in the Assembly if the measure is brought up for a vote, adding that he wasn't asking Prieto or any other lawmaker to drop their opposition to the measure.
If Prieto does not post the legislation, Greenwald told Philly.com that he would meet with legislative leaders from both parties and consider "necessary measures to get the bill posted in order to protect Atlantic City and other cities similarly situated."
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