Sponsoring Senators are hopeful to see ethics reform bills becom - DatelineCarolina

Sponsoring Senators are hopeful to see ethics reform bills become law

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Gov. Nikki Haley spoke on the need for ethics reform at a presser on April 7. Gov. Nikki Haley spoke on the need for ethics reform at a presser on April 7.
Sponsoring Republican Senator Larry Martin justifies the concerns he's heard about the lack of independent investigations. Sponsoring Republican Senator Larry Martin justifies the concerns he's heard about the lack of independent investigations.
Democratic Senator Gerald Malloy is strongly opposed to the bill Martin is pushing. Democratic Senator Gerald Malloy is strongly opposed to the bill Martin is pushing.

By Malique Rankin

The South Carolina legislature has not seen major ethics reform in years. Two key bills that would change things have left the Senate divided.

Bill H.3184 would require complaints filed against legislators to be handled by an outside investigative panel. The Senate and the House members now look into such issues.

The bill is facing controversy on the Senate floor. Sponsoring Republican Sen. Larry Martin has been pushing hard to see this bill pass.

"It’s been presented on a number of occasions that the laws don’t apply the same to y’all because y’all do your own investigations and we don’t know about them unless y’all make them public," said Martin. "That’s why I’m trying to get a commission to do an independent investigation.”

In complete disagreement, Democratic Sen. Gerald Malloy says this bill oversteps its boundaries.

“I do have a problem with the independent investigation commission," said Malloy. "And to take that outside of what I believe are the confines of the constitution.”

The debate on this bill was interrupted April 14, but will begin again when the Senate reconvenes Tuesday.

The second bill, H.3186 would require full income disclosure from members of the legislature. If this bill passes, South Carolina residents would know what and who are providing lawmakers outside income.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been vocal about getting these bills passed before session ends this year.

“Legislatures should have to report who pays them. It is that simple. The voters deserve to know it. Anyone in the state house deserves to know it," said Haley. "And independent investigations, why are they insistent on having to investigate themselves? Why not have an independent investigation like everyone else?"

Haley put the pressure on senators in her State of the State address, making a point to call out the Senate's lack of movement in ethics reform.

The income disclosure bill had a second reading during session April 14. There was a unanimous committee yes vote to move the bill forward.

The bill will have a third reading, as a formality, then move to the full Senate and be sent to the House.

If both of these bills pass in the Senate, they will then be sent to the House for approval. If the House approves the current language, it will be given to the governor to sign into law.

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