COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – South Carolina lawmakers met late into Wednesday, passing ethics reform and overriding most of the governor’s budget vetoes before going home for the year.
They passed two ethics reform bills. One will require all elected and appointed officials to disclose their sources of income. Lynn Teague, with the SC League of Women Voters, says, “One important thing would be whether a school board member, for example, who was going to be voting on, having an effect on a contract, multi-million dollar building contract, has a spouse who’s working for one of the construction companies. You want to know.”
While the bill requires disclosure of the sources of income it doesn’t require disclosure of the amount.
The second ethics bill sets up independent investigations of House members and Senators. Now, ethics complaints are investigated by the House or Senate Ethics committees, which means lawmakers are investigating their colleagues. Under this bill, the State Ethics Commission will now investigate complaints against lawmakers.
Teague says, “The League has wanted this very badly because, not because legislators are bad people. We want it because they have such a complex network of interrelationships with their colleagues, that being totally objective would be very hard for anyone.”
Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to sign the ethics reform bills because she’s been urging lawmakers to pass them.
The Senate left without voting on a moped bill, meaning it’s dead for the year. The governor had vetoed the bill, which would have required moped riders to wear reflective vests, those under 21 to wear helmets, and to obey all traffic laws. That means a moped rider would be able to be charged with DUI if he were drunk, which is not the case now. The governor’s veto message said requiring the vests and helmets for riders under 21 was government overreach. The House initially upheld her veto, but hours later reconsidered and overrode it. But when it went to the Senate, Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, held it up and senators adjourned without a vote.
They overrode all but 12 of the governor’s budget vetoes. Most of the ones they let stand did not involve money but were mandates, like eliminating a clause that directs how grass should be mowed at state welcome centers.