This week was another busy one in the Senate. We’ve continued to chip away at our Jobs and Reforms Agenda.
Senator Wes Hayes introduced three ethics reform bills aimed at closing campaign finance loopholes that have poorly affected our elections, and providing a higher level of accountability and transparency in state government. The bills would create a constitutionally sound definition of committees so that they can finally operate within the law, require elected officials and those seeking office to disclose all sources of income, and clarify requirements related to filing of Statements of Economic Interest. The proposed legislation would tighten conflict of interest laws to prohibit a public official from awarding, or participating in discussions regarding the awarding of, a state contract to any business associated with that public official or a member of their immediate family. Additionally, these bills aim to abolish Leadership PACs and to take the responsibility of ethics oversight of the House and Senate from existing, internal committees and move it under the State Ethics Commission.
Senators Kevin Bryant and Billy O’Dell also introduced a bill that would ensure South Carolinians have the highest level of data protection possible. The bill, S.334, would authorize the extension of identity theft and fraud resolution services to up to 10 years, for victims. In addition, it would create an Identity Theft Unit within the Department of Consumer Affairs, and create a Department of Information Security. The Identity Theft Unit would educate the public about identity theft and fraud and provide fraud resolution services to victims. The Department of Information Security would develop statewide policies, standards, programs, and services related to cyber security.
A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee also passed a bill this week that would allow schools, churches and other nonprofits to hold a limited number of regulated raffles yearly. Currently, the only legal raffle in South Carolina is the state lottery.
Early voting is now on the calendar, and the Senate Finance Committee continued to meet this week about the government restructuring bill that would eliminate the Budget and Control Board and give its responsibilities to a new Department of Administration in the governor’s cabinet.
Next week, we’re looking forward to getting the bills we discussed this week passed and continuing to improve the state of South Carolina.