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Shaun Kraisman
Bring you to New Jersey because the going to court over the controversial congestion pricing plan that New York is putting in place. The Garden State suing the Federal Highway Association and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Emma Rechenberg
It’s the first congestion pricing plan in the country. And New York City commuters who live just across the river in New Jersey will wind up feeling much of the pain when they drive into Manhattan. We’re taking up the case in today’s national report court with David De Pietro and Dwayne Cates, both criminal defense attorneys. For the purposes of the segment, Dwayne’s going to represent the state of New Jersey. David’s going to represent the Federal Highway Association. So gentlemen, welcome and thanks for playing along in national report court. Dwayne, first to you, the Garden State says the plan would impose an unfair cost on commuters crossing the Hudson River. Can you talk about the proof and evidence you would have to support your argument?

Dwayne Cates
Sure. First of all, it’s taxation without representation. The majority of the people going to be paying this fee are people from New Jersey and they have absolutely no say on whether this passes or not. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency did a quickie review of this and approved it. Now, if it was a private company, it would take years to get an environmental protection report and approval to do something if it was a private sector company. Because it’s liberal New York and the environmental agency just bowed down to them and said, “Great, this is fine.” But they didn’t consider the fact that there’s going to be traffic backed up into New Jersey that’s going to be polluting New Jersey. It may make New York a little cleaner, but it’s going to pollute New Jersey and they’ve got every right to challenge this in court and make them do a proper report.

David, we’ll bring you into this one. The MTA weighing in saying this, “This lawsuit is baseless. The 4,000 page environmental assessment performed by MTA, New York State Department of Transportation, and New York City Department of Transportation was supervised at every stage and specifically approved by the Biden administration.”

David, your thoughts there and how will this be defended?

David Di Pietro
I think we all learned when the Affordable Health Care Act was challenged about a decade ago that taxation is generally something that the goverment can do freely without much regulation on it. And this is really a taxation issue. And New York, if you notice, the lawsuit is dealing more about whether there was impact studies done correctly, not whether New York has the right to do this taxation. I think it’s clear under the law that New York State can do this taxation. And this is why State of New Jersey is following a lawsuit on whether the impact studies were done correctly. More of a technical argument as to whether the tax can be done, not a real legal one. So if New York can get over this hurdle, which I think they will be able to, that they did the appropriate impact study. I think this taxation issue is already well settled under our law and to be able to issue this taxation. Many states do it. State of Florida, where I live in, we push, we get a lot of visitors. We push the taxation burden on people that visit our state through other fees and sales tax. And that’s our way of spreading it. People don’t, politicians, I should say, don’t want to tax their, their constituents, they want to tax people coming into their constituents area. It’s a much easier political issue. So I see that this impact study sticks, which I think it will, I think New York state’s going to be able to do this.

Okay. Well, the New Jersey governor doesn’t only take issue with the environmental impact conclusions here, but he also said the highway association ignored the fact that new tolls would change commuting patterns. Here’s Governor Murphy.

Governor Murphy
Unfortunately New York’s proposal will prompt “toll shopping” where more drivers seek circuitous routes to avoid paying the highest tolls resulting in more traffic and more pollution.

So Duane, is that another part of your argument for your New Jersey client?

It is. It’s part of the argument. And I agree with my colleague. I mean, it is a, it is an environmental issue that they’ve sued on because the taxation issue is pretty settled, but I think that they didn’t take into consideration the change in immigration patterns into New York city when they did the environmental study. And I think that’s a big thing. Plus you guys also got to consider that unintended consequences of when you do something like this, what’s going to be the consequences, what’s going to happen? And you know, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going to happen once this goes into a fact.

All right, David, final thoughts here. Does this congestion pricing move ahead?

I think it does, unless there’s some technical argument that we’re not seeing from the face of the studies on this. If there’s something that New York state didn’t do and didn’t do the impact study correctly, New Jersey could win it. But I think at the end of the day, based on what’s been represented and the detail that New York state’s done, I think they set this up for this to be approved. I think we’ll just see a little delay before it happens.

New Jersey has filed a lawsuit to halt New York City’s landmark congestion price plan to charge drivers entering downtown Manhattan. The goal of the congestion pricing plan is to reduce congestion within the city's most trafficked areas, specifically Manhattan's Central Business District. In this plan, motorists are required to pay a fee to enter or remain within this zone during peak traffic hours. The generated revenue from these fees is primarily earmarked for improving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) public transportation infrastructure and services.

Federal defense attorney and former prosecutor David Di Pietro was brought on Newmax’s National Report Court with criminal defense attorney Dwayne Cates to discuss the merits of the lawsuit.

During the interview, David discusses the defense strategy over the congestion pricing plan. He alludes to the analogy of the Affordable Healthcare Act and the U.S. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government. In other words, taxation is something the government has flexibility to enforce without much regulation. David ascertains that it’s clear under the law that the government has the right to enforce this congestion price plan. David states that this lawsuit is more of a technical argument as to whether or not the impact studies were correct which David believes the court is likely to rule in favor of the government.

David Di Pietro was requested to appear on Newsmax due to his qualifications and experience as a former prosecutor and renowned trial litigation attorney in Florida.

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