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Thursday, February 14, 2013

House Passes Bill to Keep Penn State Fine Money in PA

House Passes Bill to Keep Penn State Fine Money in PA

HARRISBURG -- The House overwhelmingly approved legislation to ensure all proceeds from the $60 million fine imposed on the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are used to fund child protection programs in Pennsylvania, Speaker Sam Smith (R- Jefferson/Indiana/Armstrong) said today.

The NCAA imposed a number of sanctions against the university based on a report and driven by media stories. The fine, as imposed, goes into an endowment for programs to prevent child sex abuse or help abuse victims across the nation.

“What Jerry Sandusky did was a tragedy, specifically to the Pennsylvania victims, and any endowment created through a Pennsylvania institution with Pennsylvania dollars should be spent in Pennsylvania, helping Pennsylvanians,” Smith said. “I don’t believe the NCAA is the appropriate forum to deal with child sexual abuse victims; however, now that the money is being collected for a specific purpose, we need to help victims in the Commonwealth.”

Penn State already paid its first $12 million installment into an escrow fund in December, but the NCAA has agreed not to disperse the money while a lawsuit filed by Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) is pending.

The legislation, Senate Bill 187, applies to Penn State and any other institution of higher education that, in accordance to an agreement with a governing body, pays a penalty of at least $10 million in installments over more than a year and is to be used for a specific purpose. The bill would require these funds to be deposited into an endowment.

The endowment would be established as a separate trust fund in the State Treasury and funds from the endowment would be appropriated to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) on a continuing basis. The endowment would also be allowed to accept funds from any source.

Under the legislation, PCCD would use the endowment funds as stipulated in the agreement within the Commonwealth for the benefit of its residents on any of the following programs:

· Child sexual abuse prevention programs.

· Service organizations for victims of sexual abuse and child sexual abuse programs.

· Multidisciplinary investigative teams.

· Child advocacy centers.

· Training of mandated reporters.

“Penn State is considered a public university, significantly funded with Pennsylvania dollars. It is wrong for an outside agency to take what many consider to be our money to dole out for its own benefit,” Smith said. “We strongly support the helping of victims; in fact, we just passed the first of a series of bills based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Child Protection.

“The point is, Pennsylvania money should stay in Pennsylvania and help Pennsylvania’s children and victims.”

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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