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PSU BOT reform legislation vote expected Tuesday

Updated: Monday, June 9 2014, 07:59 PM EDT

Reported By: Gary Sinderson
Written By: Marc Stempka

HARRISBURG -- After years of debate Pennsylvania lawmakers are stepping up efforts to reform Penn State University's Board of Trustees, and a piece of legislation aimed at doing that is expected to move a step closer to law on Tuesday.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal at Penn State new members have been elected to the BOT and a common theme among those running for election is reform. State lawmakers have also talked about reform, and the issue is moving to the voting stage.

The state Senate Government Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Senate Bill 1240, which includes several board reform policies, including downsizing the PSU board of trustees.

The bill changes the composition of the board, and reduces the voting members from 30 to 23 members.

Current PSU BOT member Anthony Lubrano said at news conference last year that downsizing the board is crucial.

"You're in a situation where you have too many people. To try to get them all totally engaged requires a commitment on their part, as well as an interest on the part of leadership to have them engaged," Lubrano said.

At the time of proposing the legislation, bill co-sponsor and northeastern Pennsylvania Sen. John Yudichak said changes must be done to help rebuild trust at the school in wake of the Sandusky scandal.

"Public confidence and the current governance structure of the board of trustees to effectuate meaningful change and reform has been completely eroded," Yudichak said.

The current BOT has made some internal governance changes, but the proposed bill focuses on the changes that would require an act of the state legislature.

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff said even if the PSU reform legislation passes in the senate, it faces an uncertain future in the state house.

"Most legislators I think believe that that is a decision that needs to be done by the trustees and by their alumni," Benninghoff said.

The bill has 36 senators who have signed on as co-sponsors for the reform measures.

There are other pending reform proposals in the legislature, including one allowing Penn State and the three other state-related universities -- Pitt, Temple and Lincoln -- to better conform to the state’s right to know laws.

PSU BOT reform legislation vote expected Tuesday

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