Ethics reform, touted as a top priority of this legislative session, has become a highly partisan issue after Republicans muscled through the House a loaded down bill.

House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) says Democrats have no excuses. Though conceding the ethics measure passing the House contained measures Democrats might not like, Tilley insists they had a chance to vote for ethics and didn’t.

“And I’m telling you it’s a fact, is that you’ve got Democrats around the state talking about how they want ethics reform, but whenever the bell rang and they had an opportunity to stand up for the citizens of this state, they said no,” Tilley says. “And I told you why it would occur and the reason it occurred is because they don’t want ethics reform.”

Not so says House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) who holds out hope that the Senate might approve a version more acceptable to Democrats.

“I’m guess I’m hopeful that the Senate will see what a mess this is and maybe use another vehicle that they have to bring some ethics reform,” LeVota says.

As for the bill that passed the House last week, HCS#2 SB 844, Assistant Minority Leader J-C Kuessner (D-Eminence) has a blunt assessment.

“I expect the bill to die,” Kuessner says. “ I don’t think you’ll see any more of it.”

A party-line vote in the House has sent the bill back to the Senate, its fate uncertain.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]