It appears the fox will continue to guard the hen house after our General Assembly moved forward this week with a lackluster ethics bill.

The legislation fails to accomplish what some lawmakers have been fighting for years to create Ė an independent ethics committee for when lawmakers run afoul of our ethics laws.

It seems politics got in the way as lawmakers will essentially continue to police themselves.

The ethics bill isnít a complete failure.

It does force public officials and candidates to disclose private amounts of income, and bans political action committees tied to lawmakers.

But true ethics reform is essentially neglected without the independent oversight thatís been wrangled over for years.

Such a change will apparently not take place, according to S.C. Sens. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, and Luke Rankin, R-Horry in The State newspaper.

Both sit on the House-Senate ethics conference panel, and said the S.C. Senate will not approve any plan this year that changes the way lawmakers are investigated.

Perhaps it can be approved during the next legislative session, but piecemeal changes send the message that the General Assembly isnít fully inclined to have a true watchdog.

A vote on the current bill was awaiting in the S.C. Senate, but S.C. Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, has held up the bill, saying that senators should wait to vote on the measure so lawmakers can fully study the bill.

The Senate will now vote on the measure when the General Assembly returns for lingering matters on June 17.

The silver lining at this point if it passes is that at least our ethics laws, which havenít been updated in decades, will likely receive some positive change.

But the most important part, the one thatís most vital to true ethics reform, has unfortunately fallen by the wayside this year.