Legislature Passes ‘Independent Investigation’ Bill

THE GOVERNOR HAS SIGNED IT, BUT VERY LITTLE HAS CHANGED In 2012, the Policy Council began calling for the abolition of the legislature’s power to police its own members’ ethics violations (see reform no. 5). Currently, of course, House and Senate ethics committees have the power to adjudicate members’ ethics cases, keep the information secret […]

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South Carolina State House Happenings

Ethics Reform Bills Aim for Status Quo

ON INCOME DISCLOSURE AND LEGISLATIVE SELF-POLICING, LAWMAKERS WANT CREDIT FOR REFORM WITHOUT CHANGING THE SYSTEM At the moment, the two hottest issues in the State House going under the banner “ethics reform” are income disclosure and independent investigation of lawmakers. There’s a problem, though: Neither bill purporting to address these issues would accomplish significant reform. […]

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UPDATE: Senate Addresses Ethics Legislation

THE SENATE BILL IS GONE. THE HOUSE BILL IS BACK. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The ethics debate in the Senate got very interesting this week as the Senate took up H.3184 the “ethics” bill on special order. In order to explain exactly what happened in the Senate chamber, we first need to provide some […]

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South Carolina Legislation

Giant Ethics Bill to Hit Senate Floor

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS YEARS ETHICS DEBATE On April 5, 2016, the South Carolina Senate will begin debating the omnibus ethics-related bill that is currently on special order. What follows is an overview of what bills are currently in the Senate, where they stand in the process, and exactly what they would […]

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Why the Latest Ethics Bill Would Change Nothing

● Bill includes unaccountable exceptions to private income disclosure ● Actually weakens public income disclosure requirement ● Legislative self-policing rearranged, not abolished ● Allows ethics committees to sign off – in secret – on sketchy practices The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed another long, complicated ethics bill. The amended bill addresses two principal areas: income disclosure and […]

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Senate’s Latest Version of ‘Ethics Reform’

  DANGEROUS ‘ELECTIONEERING’ PROVISION SCRAPPED, BUT LEGISLATION STILL CONSISTS MAINLY OF REGRESSIVE NON-REFORMS The Senate Judiciary Committee has just passed another omnibus ethics bill, H.3184. The bill has a tortured history, having been completely rewritten several times. The amended bill is not yet available to the public (this is the case with more and more legislation, incidentally). […]

Ending Legal Corruption – A Progress Report

● House bill on self-policing further empowers legislature. ● House income disclosure bills still full of loopholes. ● House FOIA reform bill still allows lawmaker exemption. The 2016 legislative session has begun with the usual round of speculation, accusations, and factually challenged claims. In her State of the State address, for example, Gov. Nikki Haley left the […]

Weak, Confusing Ethics Bill Has One More Shot

● One last chance for this year’s omnibus “ethics” bill ● Self-policing provision makes little actual improvement ● Income disclosure provision contains loopholes, exceptions The Senate may take one more shot at ethics reform when the legislature returns from break next week. The chamber has already taken one shot at passing a bill this year, […]

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Ethics Bills Perpetuate Self-Policing

• A pair of omnibus ethics bills now in the General Assembly purport to end legislative “self-policing.” • They don’t. • Instead, both bills perpetuate a system in which lawmakers have special laws written only for themselves, and in which they “investigate” and “punish” each other. [download .pdf] The issue of the day is “independent […]

Lawmakers File Scores of ‘Ethics’ Bills for 2015

WHICH ONES DESERVE THE WORD ‘REFORM’? Two years ago, many, perhaps most, lawmakers dismissed the need for ethics reform. They know better now. As the 2015 session begins, already more than 30 ethics-related bills have been filed. Some would accomplish worthy goals, to be sure. Yet most contain troubling and dangerous provisions that would loosen rather […]