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      House Democrats fighting for ethics reform

      Tuesday, House Democrats were fighting for ethics refortm in Columbia.
      COLUMBIA (WACH / AP)-- Tuesday, House Democrats were fighting for ethics reform in Columbia.

      Newly elected Rep. Beth Bernstein and Rep. James Smith questioned why an ethics reform bill presented in January has not made it out of committee.

      Smith and Bernstein would like to see some changes in the ethics system and harsher penalties for those who violate ethics laws.

      "We were not elected to take one step forward and two steps backward on ethics reform. I was not elected to simply pass a toothless bill so I can say we did something. We we're elected to get something substantively done," said Bernstein.

      Bernstein and Smith would like to see the bill make it out of committee before the May 1 deadline.

      House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, issued a statement Tuesday about the ethics reform package.

      â??There are 124 opinions in the House about how to do ethics reform, and perfection is the enemy of good. On Thursday, we will come together, compromise, and work to pass an ethics law that will reflect the best values of our state," said Bannister.

      Legislators of both parties called ethics reform a top priority for 2013, but progress has been slow.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)