PICKENS COUNTY—Lawmakers are working to pass an ethics reform bill that would require more transparency and allow for more flexibility in policing elected officials.
With a June 6 deadline on the horizon, members of the House and Senate are hoping something is agreed on soon.
The House passed the bill last week.
“Time is of the essence, and we appreciate the House’s passage of the bill so that we can consider it and get it passed before the end of the session,” Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler said. “The House bill represents a start, and we are committed to a strong ethics bill being passed by the Senate.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin (Pickens-R) said extra steps are being taken to make sure adequate time is allowed.
“We’ve gotten the bill from the house. I have cancelled the full judiciary committee meeting Tuesday afternoon to enable the ethics reform sub-committees to meet in that time slot,” Martin said. “Hopefully this will give them adequate time to get that bill to the full committee and then we’ll take it up.”
The bill would require lawmakers to be more transparent with their pay and would allow them to police themselves. The bill also prevents lawmakers from organizing substantial political groups.
Martin said ethics reform got off to a slow start this session.
“One of the things that got us off to a slow start this session is that the Senate and the House both had committees who were working on various aspects of ethics reform,” Martin said. “They were working on different aspects of income disclosure, different rules relating to campaign finance that needed to be updated and a lot of other issues.”
Martin said there are a few key things that need to be worked out regarding this bill.
“We’re working on whether or not we would allow complaints that are filed against members of the general assembly, which now go to the respective ethics committee, to go to an outside commission,” Martin said. “We’re working on language to set that up.”
Although budget passage and other important issues are looming, Martin said this will take priority.
“We’ve bumped up against the budget, which is a bit of a problem, but we still have the opportunity to get it out,” Martin said. “This takes priority.”