A bill that would ban the use of a state-owned aircraft to bring people to Columbia or elsewhere to testify before legislative committees passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. It's next stop is the Senate floor.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, came about in reaction to a controversy over use of the state plane that ensnared state Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg, who flew a Washington, D.C., conservative pundit Walter Williams to Columbia last year to testify on a bill that would outlaw the Affordable Care Act.
The House Ethics Committee found probable cause that Chumley may have violated state law in authorizing the $6,390 flight, but then dismissed the case, after Chumley said he consulted with an ethics attorney and was not aware of any violation of the law.
Lourie's bill, if it becomes law, would require members of the General Assembly to get permission from the House Speaker or Senate President Pro Tempore before authorizing use of an aircraft owned or leased by the state.
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It also would require members of state boards and commissions to seek approval from the leaders of their boards.