The Buzz

SC senators hope to pass ethics reforms Wednesday

tglantz@thestate.com

A chronic impasse over ethics reform in the S.C. Senate may be clearing up.

Senators gave the second of three required readings Tuesday to a bill that would end the practice of lawmakers policing themselves.

It is a change to the state’s ethics laws that Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, some lawmakers and good-government watchdogs have been demanding for more than three years, only to watch proposals die.

The bill would create an independent panel to investigate ethics complaints against lawmakers and other public officials. Now, state lawmakers investigate themselves.

Senators have to work out some remaining issues Wednesday, but there appears to be growing support for the bill, said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield.

Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, said he expects the Senate to adopt the independent investigations bill. “Unless something unusual happens, I think everybody is on board.”

Another ethics bill in the Senate would require public officials, including state lawmakers, to disclose the source of their private income.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said he is hopeful both bills will receive the third and final approvals that they need Wednesday. Both bills already have passed the House.

“We’ll see if it’s misplaced optimism tomorrow,” said Martin, stopping short of predicting passage. “I don’t sense that there’s a mood to hold these up at this point. I think the decision to let these bills go (to pass) was made today.”

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