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Pa. Legislators Move to Strengthen Laws in Wake of Penn State Scandal

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |  

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are pushing for changes to state laws to better protect children and increase transparency at state universities in the wake of the Penn State scandal and sanctions handed down by the NCAA.

According to the Harrisburg Patriot News, some of the prospoals offered by Democrats would expand the state’s Right-to-Know Law to all four state-affiliated universities, which are now exempt from financial and other disclosure requirements, despite receiving more than $500 million a year in state funding. In addition to Penn State, the other schools are the University of Pittsburgh, and Lincoln and Temple universities.

Republicans, led by state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and Gov. Tom Corbett, are also pushing for additional measures to boost child safety laws, beyond the proposals offered to strengthen the Right-to-Know Law, the Patriot News reported.

Although the changes being advocated are clearly directed at Penn State, officials at the state Office of Open Records, which enforces Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, said they believe a greater level of transparency is needed at all the schools.

“Our position all along has been, where you’re dealing with taxpayer dollars, there should be a certain level of transparency,” Nathan Byerly, deputy director of the Open Records Office, told the newspaper. “To what extent you go with that transparency, that’s a decision for policy makers.”

At least one bill introduced by Democratic state Rep. Kevin Boyle would also address criminal conduct by establishing a third-degree felony charge against any school official with knowledge of child abuse who fails to notify law enforcement or child protection officials.

In addition state House lawmakers are also considering proposals to eliminate the statute of limitations on reporting child sexual abuse.





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