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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
 
South Jersey

May 28, 1999

Speaker's action quashes bill on USS New Jersey

 

By CAREN CHESLER
Gannett State Bureau

Assembly Speaker Jack Collins vowed Thursday to kill a bill aimed at bringing the mothballed Navy battleship USS New Jersey to Bayonne, saying the Legislature should stay out of the ongoing tug-of-war over the ship.

Collins, a Salem County Republican, would rather see the ship berthed in Camden, but said he would not post any bill that puts the Legislature in the fray over where the ship will be moored. Under federal law, it is up to the Navy, which owns the ship, to make that decision.

"It does not matter if the legislation calls for the designation to Bayonne or Camden, I absolutely will not post such a bill for a vote in the Assembly," said Collins. "The Legislature should not have its hand in determining the final berthing of the USS New Jersey.

The bill, introduced last week by North Jersey lawmakers, reiterated that the state-appointed New Jersey Battleship Commission has the authority to operate the ship. The commission has already chosen Bayonne as the ship's home port. South Jersey lawmakers want the ship berthed in Camden.

By refusing to put the measure up for a vote, Collins, from South Jersey, has effectively quashed it. The bill's first stop would have been the Assembly Commerce, Tourism, Gaming and Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee, whose chairman is also chairman of the Battleship Commission, Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth.

Azzolina, who has sought for almost 20 years to have the ship brought back to New Jersey, denies that the bill would have put the ship in Bayonne. He said it simply qualifies how the commission operates, and who should sit on it.

But even the bill's other sponsors acknowledge that its intent was to place the ship in the hands of the commission, and ultimately, in Bayonne.

Sen. John J. Matheussen, R-Gloucester, said he will ask Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco, R-Union, to follow Collins' lead, although by killing the bill in the Assembly, Collins effectively killed it in both houses anyway. "I thought the bill, quite frankly, was ill-intended. This really is the Navy's decision," Matheussen said.

The Camden contingent received another boost this week with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo saying he supported docking the battleship in Camden.

 

USS New Jersey Home Page



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