- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Lawmakers have advanced a bill aimed at reforming the Meadowlands planning agencies and providing tax relief to northern New Jersey towns.

The Democrat-controlled state Senate passed the measure Monday, sending it to Republican Gov. Chris Christie. The Assembly passed the legislation last week.

A Christie spokesman did not return a message seeking comment Monday afternoon.

The measure would merge the state’s Meadowlands Commission into the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. It also changes a regional tax-sharing system in which eight towns pay taxes to support economic development in six other towns that don’t pay those taxes.

Lawmakers ended that system and instead pay for economic development through a 3 percent tax on hotels in all 14 towns.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who represents the areas affected by the measure, pushed the bill through the Legislature. It had been opposed by Republicans.

A code inspector and plumber by trade, Prieto has said the nearly five-decade old agencies did not account for “modern needs,” including transportation needs.

“It’s the right reform at the right moment in time,” he said in a statement.

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