By Paul Gable
Ethics reform and a gas tax increase head the bills prefiled in the S.C. Senate December 3rd.
Sen. Larry Martin is again attempting to end the practice of the S.C. House Ethics Committee and the S.C. Senate Ethics Committee from policing members of their own bodies and meeting in secret. Martin is proposing revamping the State Ethics Commission so it will have first look at ethics complaints against state legislators before those complaints go to the House or Senate ethics committees.
Martin’s bill would also require candidates and public officials to disclose more details about their incomes; bring political groups back into the reporting fold for revenue and expenses and tighten laws on how campaign funds may be spent.
Sen. Luke Rankin, Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, prefile an ethics reform bill that has many of the same provisions as Martin’s bill except that the House and Senate ethics committees would remain intact.
Sen. Larry Grooms proposed raising the state gas tax by two-cents per year for 10 consecutive years to pay for maintenance of the state’s roads while proposing a two-tenths of one percent reduction per year for 10 years on state income tax rates.
Sen. Nikki Setzler prefiled a bill to set aside a fund specifically for lane expansion on existing interstate highways within the state. Setzler’s bill would be funded by one-half of the revenue collected from vehicle sales taxes.
Sen. Darrell Jackson again prefiled a Homeowner’s Protection Act bill that would eliminate many of the current abuses by Homeowners Associations toward their member homeowners.
The Senate will have a second prefiling date on December 10, 2014 while the S.C. House has set prefiling dates as December 11 and December 18, 2014.
Link to Senate bills prefiled on December 3rd: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/spref15/pref15s1.htm