Ethics, education, infrastructure top what could be the most amb - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Ethics, education, infrastructure top what could be the most ambitious legislative session ever

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Ethics, education, criminal domestic violence, and infrastructure top a list of hot button issues the South Carolina General Assembly aims to tackle in the upcoming session, leaving some policy experts to wonder if legislators can get the job done.

“What we see is a lot of big talk,” South Carolina Policy Council's Ashley Landess said. “Most of the time, when they do pass something, it's worse than the status quo was.”

Landess is skeptical of the tall order of reform initiatives and bills already prefiled by members of the state House and Senate. Landess pointed out the ethics reform bill, which failed in the last session, drew heavy criticism for decriminalizing several offenses.

Ethics reform died in 2013 and 2014 and now legislators already have bills prefiled to overhaul the state ethics act. Those same lawmakers say they want to reform ethics quickly because of everything else they have on tap this year. So when asked if many of them think they'll get to every reform on the list, the general response was, "We'll see."

"I've been here four years, and I think I've been working on ethics three and a half out of those four," Rep. Tommy Pope said.

Pope isn't alone in the legislative push for ethics reform. One day after his subcommittee met to to discuss a House ethics reform act, state Sen. Larry Martin discussed a similar bill prefiled with the Senate. On Thursday, Democratic Representative-elect Mary Tinkler introduced her own ethics bill.

Tinkler is new in the House, winning the district that belonged to former House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who resigned after pleading guilty to ethics violations in Richland County Court.

Pope, Martin, and others say the goal is to get ethics out of the way quickly.

"This is important, but it's really slowing us down for the work we need to be doing," Pope said.

And if you ask state residents about the work they believe the legislature needs to be working on, many of them will say infrastructure.

"We gotta work on roads, we know that," state Sen. Katrina Shealy said. 

Roads -- then there's the road ahead that could lead to the overhaul of the state's Department of Social Services, which is a plan prefiled by Shealy just last week.

“It's a good year to start,” Shealy said. “It's a two-year session.”

Then you have lawmakers who are attempting to address the state's deadly criminal domestic violence issues. Sen. Martin wants stricter gun laws for those convicted of domestic violence. 

So if you total it up, is this the most ambitious legislative session in some time?

“It's an ambitious session, but there's a lot of us here and I think we can get work done,” said Shealy. 

Both chambers in the legislative branch say they want to pass bills for all of these hot issues, but Rep. Pope says a lot will depend on how quickly discussion can turn into a vote.

"What I hope we do in the house is tackle it, get it done, have a good vetting of it. Move it on over across the hall, and get to work on all these other issues," Pope said.

While legislators have said they want to get bills moving quickly through the House and Senate, they've also said they have little control over what will happen once a bill leaves their respective chambers and goes to the next.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • Fatal crash blocks all lanes on I-77SB near Blythewood Rd.

    Fatal crash blocks all lanes on I-77SB near Blythewood Rd.

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 7:44 AM EDT2018-06-20 11:44:57 GMT
    A collision on I-77SB at Blythwood Rd. has closed all lanes. (WIS)A collision on I-77SB at Blythwood Rd. has closed all lanes. (WIS)

    A fatal crash has blocked all lanes to traffic on I-77 Southbound at Exit 27 near Blythewood Road.

    More >>

    A fatal crash has blocked all lanes to traffic on I-77 Southbound at Exit 27 near Blythewood Road.

    More >>
  • Trump administration pulls US out of UN human rights council

    Trump administration pulls US out of UN human rights council

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 12:00 PM EDT2018-06-19 16:00:59 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 7:43 AM EDT2018-06-20 11:43:28 GMT
    (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, File). FILE - This is a Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2008 file photo, showing a general view of the Human Rights Room (Room XX) at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Diplomats say the United...(Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, File). FILE - This is a Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2008 file photo, showing a general view of the Human Rights Room (Room XX) at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Diplomats say the United...
    The Trump administration is poised to announce its departure from the United Nations' main human rights body in its latest withdrawal from an international institution.More >>
    The Trump administration is poised to announce its departure from the United Nations' main human rights body in its latest withdrawal from an international institution.More >>
  • APNewsBreak: Youngest migrants held in 'tender age' shelters

    APNewsBreak: Youngest migrants held in 'tender age' shelters

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 9:12 PM EDT2018-06-20 01:12:25 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 7:42 AM EDT2018-06-20 11:42:50 GMT
    Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

    More >>

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly