SC lawmakers considering new guidelines for ethics investigation - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

SC lawmakers considering new guidelines for ethics investigations

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

According to the Center for Public Integrity, South Carolina ranks 45th out of the 50 states when it comes to ethics enforcement on a state level.

On Wednesday, at a state senate committee hearing, members considered changes on how to handle ethics complaints against lawmakers.

The main focus of the ethics debate centers around who should investigate and punish those found to be in violation of the state ethics code.

"A lot of the public that I talk to during the campaign and others, they'd like to have an independent body involved in the process as opposed to having colleagues having to sit in judgment of other colleagues," said State Sen. Robert Hayes, R-Rock Hill.

Lawmakers were also advised by the state inspector general to adopt a policy of rejecting gifts over $50.

"I want to have complete confidence that they're fair and objective, and I don't' want to have to do the math of 'does the York County lunch affect their decision?' said Inspector General Patrick Maley.

Another big change that reform advocates support more comprehensive income disclosure laws for lawmakers.

"If you're in a business regulated by the state and you're a legislator, right now you're not required to disclose that business relationship," said Lynn Teague with the League of Women Voters. "That could very easily be a conflict of interest."

The Senate Select Committee will submit their recommendations on the ethics bill and amendment to the senate once the session resumes.

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