Now that the road funding legislation has passed in the state Senate, other bills have a chance to be front and center in South Carolina’s upper chamber.
At top of the Senate’s agenda is a bill that would place restrictions on refugees, which senators started debating on Wednesday. Senate leaders expect the bill to continue being taken up early next week.
Right behind it is ethics reform. State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, gave what may be a preview of the floor debate to expect. Martin criticized a libertarian organization and other political action groups that are backing for his Upstate South Carolina.
Martin claimed the anonymous groups are calling and sending mailers to residents in his district that he believes tell untruths and misleading information about the ethics bill.
“The very people that have criticized us for not having sources of income disclosed,” he said on the floor of the Senate Thursday. “When this in fact does that, they’re saying please urge your member not to vote for this.”
Martin said the groups claim that ethics reform would be a violation of their freedom of speech and are making robocalls in his district. “Please call Larry Martin and tell him to quit trampling on our constitutional rights. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it,” said Martin.
Americans for Prosperity state chairman Dave Schwarz claimed lawmakers want a list of donors so they can retaliate against those individuals included on the list. “The threatening and intimidating remarks made today are exactly why citizens are calling them about these unethical bills,” he said in a statement. “Larry Martin (has) been (a) powerful politician for more than 30 years – it’s no surprise they want to pass laws that will protect the political class at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.”
Debate of ethics reform could move into the spotlight when senators return to Columbia next week. “This body is going to the opportunity to debate ethics reform. As it is embodied in this bill,” Martin told senators.