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Pennsylvania

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign anti-hazing measure

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 3:31 p.m.
In this May 5, 2017, photo, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, center, stand by as Centre County, Pa., prosecutors discuss an investigation into the death of their son Timothy Piazza, in photo at right, during a news conference in Bellefonte, Pa.
Abby Drey /Centre Daily Times
In this May 5, 2017, photo, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, center, stand by as Centre County, Pa., prosecutors discuss an investigation into the death of their son Timothy Piazza, in photo at right, during a news conference in Bellefonte, Pa.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday urged state House members to move quickly on the Timothy J. Piazza Law, an anti-hazing bill named for a Penn State sophomore who died in an alcohol-fueled fraternity pledge ritual last year.

Wolf said he is anxious to sign the bill that gained a rare unanimous vote of approval in the state Senate.

“I thank Senator Corman and bipartisan members of the Senate for advancing this important bill to combat hazing and help prevent another tragedy,” Wolf said. “We must give law enforcement the tools that they need to hold people accountable and we must ensure schools have proper safeguards to protect students and curb these practices. I urge the House to swiftly pass this bill and get it to my desk for my signature.”

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-State College introduced the measure last month as a local court weighed charges against members of the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity who were charged in connection with Piazza's death. The bill would increase penalties for hazing. It also would require schools to establish policies and reporting procedures to eliminate hazing and inform students and parents of what is happening on campus.

Corman said he was spurred to action, in part by Jim and Evelyn Piazza , who campaigned to end hazing in the wake of the death of their 19-year-old son's death last year.

“They are driven by the memory of Tim, propelled by the desire to make certain that no other child dies as part of some coerced and misguided rite of passage,” Corman said as he unveiled the bill with the Piazzas by his side.

Wednesday as he celebrated the unanimous passage of the bill, Corman reiterated his commitment to see it become law.

“We want Pennsylvania's hazing laws to be a model for the United States,” Corman said. “The carefully crafted bill provides law enforcement with the tools they need to fully prosecute those who engage in hazing-related activities, which we hope serves as a deterrent. At the same time, it provides safe harbor provisions so those who are nearby can help by calling for assistance for someone who may be in distress.”

The North American Interfraternity Council also went on record in support of the measure.

“We deeply appreciate the Piazza family and Majority Leader Corman's leadership around this serious issue. We fully support strengthening laws that appropriately punish those who participate in or condone any form of hazing, and we hope to collaborate with Sen. Corman to provide critical recommendations that would further enhance Tim's Law's ability to combat hazing,” NIC spokeswoman Heather Kirk said

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib

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