STATE COLLEGE, March 15 State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, is urging legislative action on his multi-bill package designed to increase accountability and transparency among the Pennsylvania State University's Board of Trustees.
Conklin said this follows news of the recent recommendations by the board's committee on governance to remove the voting power of the university president and Pennsylvania's governor, a key provision also included in Conklin's legislation.
"This is a step in the right direction," said Conklin. "Not to pull the cart before the horse, but discussions are moving forward and that's encouraging news.
"We all need to be working in the best interest of the university and I welcome working in tandem with the board and my fellow lawmakers."
Conklin added his proposed reforms (H.B. 299, H.B. 310, H.B. 311, H.B. 312) are prompted by recommendations issued by state Auditor General Jack Wagner in the wake of the conviction and sentencing of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Proposed reforms include:
· Prohibiting the president of the university and the state's governor from serving as voting members of the board,
· Amending Penn States enabling statute to make the governor and the secretaries of Education, Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources ex-officio members of the board;
· Prohibiting anyone who has served as governor or in the capacity of a statewide row office from serving on the board until four years after their term has ended;
· Requiring the board to elect officers annually;
· Requiring trustees to comply with the state's Ethics Act, including the financial disclosure provisions;
· Reducing trustee term limits to nine years and establishing three-year terms;
· Reducing the overall size of the board of trustees to 22 members; and
· Making the state's Right-to-Know Law applicable to Penn State.
Conklin's bills are currently under review by the House Education Committee or the House State Government Committee.
"I hope this signal will trigger the committee chairman, Reps. Paul Clymer and Daryl Metcalfe, to move these bills forward as expeditiously as possible," Conklin said. "The board also sees the need to advance fundamental reform so now is the time to pick up the baton and finish this together."
The governance committee's recommendations will now move to the full PSU board for further review.