BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – While lawyers for several suspects involved in a Penn State fraternity death appeared in Centre County court Friday, the republican leader of the Pennsylvania Senate was also in Bellefonte.
Senator Jake Corman introduced new anti-hazing legislation.
Senator Corman unveiled Senate Bill 1090 which would be called the “Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law.”
The issue of hazing isn’t something that is isolated to just one college or university.
Senator Corman says the goal of his legislation is to prevent another death like the one we saw last year at Penn State’s main campus.
With a large picture of Tim Piazza outside the Centre County Courthouse Friday, his family had mixed emotions.
They lost a lot 13 months ago but they’re now on a mission.
“Universities throughout the country are struggling with what has become an epidemic and it must stop!” Jim Piazza, father of Timothy Piazza said.
Jim Piazza is talking about hazing.
Pennsylvania’s senate majority leader now wants harsher penalties for hazing.
Senator Corman is calling for hazing that results in bodily injury to be a third degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
Hazing that results in serious injury or death would be treated as a third degree felony.
That could carry up to a seven year jail sentence.
“This flexibility now will give prosecutors around the commonwealth much more flexibility as I said, to match up the charge with the severity of the crime,” Senator Jake Corman said.
Locally, state senator John Blake supports the new anti-hazing legislation unveiled Friday.
“The whole idea here is to create a deterrent, try to increase the penalties for this kind of conduct,” Senator John Blake of Lackawanna County said.
The new proposed law would also mandate institutions and high schools adopt a policy against hazing.
While Senator Corman is a republican, Senator Blake is a democrat.
Both think the new anti-hazing legislation should not meet much opposition.
“When there are compelling public policy issues, they tend not to be partisan. These are the kinds of things we should join together on and try to get it across the finish line,” Senator Blake said.
The president of Penn State University attended Friday’s news conference.
He told reporters afterwards that it is a powerful bill that will make a difference and should be passed as fast as it can.
A senate committee could begin looking at the new anti-hazing legislation next week.
The full senate could begin discussing it next month.