After a flurry of amendments, a Senate Judiciary committee has sent a wide ranging ethics reform bill to the Senate floor.
Republican Leader Phil Berger said he expects broad bipartisan support for the ethics reforms when the measure comes up for a vote next week.
The bill had been sent up to the Senate floor last week, but was sent back to committee without a vote after Republican objections to the inclusion of a proposal to provide a public financing option for some statewide political campaigns. With the public financing issue gone, committee members set about Thursday to tweak what was left.
Among the changes approved:
Sen. Richard Stevens' amendment to strip out a provision to extend the "revolving door" ban on former legislators and state officials working as lobbyists from six months to 1-year after leaving public service. Supporters had argued the 1-year ban was need to keep legislators from resigning at the end of one legislative session, and then returning as a lobbyist for the next.
"It seems to me six months is a reasonable cooling off period," said Stevens, a Cary Republican. "We're chilling a person's ability to make a living."
Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, proposed an amendment that stripped out a provision to require the estates of public officials who die to file a final posthumous ethics disclosure of their financial interests. McKissick said the measure was "overkill." He questioned who the state might punish for non-compliance.
"I'm not sure who you would go after, unless you're going to hold a seance," McKissick said. Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt, the committee's chairman, quipped that the Bull City lawmaker was attempting to curry favor with dead voters.
Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Democrat from Charlotte, proposed an amendment to require state agencies to disclose why a state employee who was fired lost the job. The measure was supported by the N.C. Press Association. Current state personnel law allows a state agency to hide from the public the true reason a state employee fired for malfeasance was dismissed.
UPDATED: Adds response from Sen. Berger.