The Timothy Piazza Anti-Hazing Act has been selected as one of the five “most impactful” laws enacted in Pennsylvania in 2018 by the online publication BillyPenn (www.billypenn.com). “Moved by the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza, who suffered fatal injuries during fraternity initiation rituals, the legislature passed a comprehensive anti-hazing law,” the publication’s Harrisburg reporter Sarah Anne Hughes wrote, noting that the law makes offenses that result in death or serious injury a felony. Kline & Specter attorneys, who represent parents Jim and Evelyn Piazza, played an instrumental role in working with the staff of Sen. Jake Corman in drafting the measure aimed at deterring hazing at schools throughout the state. “The Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law is a significant achievement not only for the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but also for Kline & Specter lawyers, especially Chip Becker and David Williams, who were instrumental in its drafting,” said Tom Kline, who along with Williams, Becker and the Piazzas were present when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the measure into law on October 19. The new law is the most comprehensive anti-hazing measure in the nation. In addition to creating felony charges, it enables forfeiture of real estate, such as a fraternity house, in certain cases. Also key among its provision, the law provides safe harbor immunity for those who call for aid or render aid in a hazing incident. It further mandates schools to publish anti-hazing policies online with fines and other penalties imposed for violations. Pennsylvania officials are hoping that the law not only deters future hazing incidents in the commonwealth but that its provisions will be enacted in other states across the country.
The other four 2018 laws named as most impactful by BillyPenn were measures that :
- Make Pennsylvania the first state to have a “Clean Slate” law intended to allow people convicted of minor infractions better access to jobs and housing. The measure automatically seals criminal records for summary offenses and non-violent misdemeanors after 10 years.
- Eliminates mandatory suspension of a driver’s license for drug convictions and offenses like buying tobacco as a minor. The law does not apply to crimes committed while driving.
- Broadens current law for giving up firearms in domestic abuse cases, including mandating firearms be relinquished within 24 hours of a conviction involving a violent incident. Current law allows possession for 60 days after such a conviction.
- Requires county housing authorities to relocate survivors of domestic and sexual violence.