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NYS Senate & Assembly Pass Bill to Dissolve Peace Bridge Authority

11:05 PM, Jun 13, 2013   |    comments
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By Jon Campbell

The bitter dispute between Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration and the Canadian government played out in Albany on Wednesday.

A bill that could lead to the dissolution of the Peace Bridge Authority is headed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk after the Senate passed it Wednesday evening.

The Senate passed the measure unanimously after the Assembly debate caused a split among the western New York delegation when it passed earlier in the day.

The bill was crafted as a bitter dispute among the Canadian and New York appointees on the 10-member authority have become gridlocked over various issues, including the revamping of the entry plaza on the U.S. side of the Buffalo-to-Fort Erie bridge.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration has traded aggressive barbs with the Canadian officials over the past several weeks, with a Canadian official traveling to Albany this week to meet with top administration and legislative officials.

If signed by Cuomo, the bill wouldn't lead to the immediate elimination of the board and would likely lead to legal challenges. The authority would continue to exist if it issues new debt to finance projects before July 2014; if its current bonds are paid off, the bill calls for the dissolution of the authority.

"We've been poised to do projects for the last two decades and nothing's happened," said Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, the bill's sponsor. "Perhaps it's time to take the plunge and change the authority's structure."

"I dont think there is a single person involved in this for a minute that thinks the Canadians are going to agree or go along nicely if we dissolve this authority," said Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, Erie County. "This goes about it in completely the wrong way." 

As for Western New York's delegation, here are the Assemblymembers who want the PBA gone: Republican John Ceretto, Democrats Dennis Gabryszak, Sean Ryan and Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

In opposition, are Republicans Ray Walter and Jane Corwin. Democrat Robin Schimminger and Independent Democrat Mickey Kearns.

2 On Your Side did not get a response from Assemblymember David DiPietro.

In the Senate, Mark Grisanti, George Maziarz, Tim Kennedy and Patrick Gallivan all voted yes. Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer was excused from session and is undecided on the bill.

Federal lawmakers, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins want the Governor to back off on his plan.

Once the bill gets to the Governor's desk Cuomo will review it.

The Governor's press secretary tells 2 On Your Side the Governor has no position on the bill.

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