SC House approves ethics reform package

By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - The House has approved a bill aimed at strengthening South Carolina's ethics laws.

The measure was approved 113-7 on Tuesday. It would require politicians to disclose their income sources, end the pre-election blackout period for reporting donations and extend the regulation of lobbyists to local governments.

A perfunctory vote on Wednesday would send the bill to the Senate, meeting a legislative deadline that allows for passage this year.

House Republicans wrote an amendment last week to the 38-page bill following criticism from groups pushing for reform.

Critics still don't like how the bill handles ethics complaints against legislators. It creates a joint House-Senate ethics committee composed of legislators and their appointees.

But House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister says he believes the compromise is a substantial improvement.

Rob Godfrey, Gov. Nikki Haley's spokesman was happy with the measure.

"This bill represents the most important reform to our ethics code in more than two decades, and the governor appreciates the House making sure it passed before tomorrow's deadline. There are, however, two specific areas in which the governor looks forward to working with the Senate to strengthen: income disclosures and the structure of the ethics committees. She has long said that this year is the year for true ethics reform in South Carolina, and today puts us well on our way to having a government that our citizens can be proud of," he said.

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