House GOP panel drafting overhaul of ethics panels

By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Legislators would no longer handle complaints against their own members under recommendations coming from a House GOP study panel.

The Republican panel decided Thursday to draft legislation sending ethics complaints to an overhauled state Ethics Commission. House and Senate Ethics committees would handle only administrative tasks, such as fining members for filing forms late. That's for the near term, anyway.

The House panel recommends eventually abolishing the legislative panels after putting the question to voters in 2014.

Legislators argue the state constitution needs to change to eliminate the panels, since it says each chamber is responsible for punishing its members.

Under the bill being drafted, the state Ethics Commission would forward a complaint to a newly formed Public Integrity Unit for investigation, if it finds evidence that a violation occurred.

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