The House has voted 61-9 in favor of HR 2, giving final approval to changes in the House’s ethics rule, Rule 76. They include creating a new, standing five-member ethics committee, with three members elected by the majority caucus and two by the minority caucus; and revising and adding more specifics to House ethics standards, definitions and procedures. All nine of the “no” votes came from House Democrats, but four Democrats voted in favor of the measure.
“I’d like to acknowledge that we were consulted early and often and participated in the development of this,” House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, told the House. “Not everything we wanted, of course, but that’s the way legislation is. We really do agree with placing the responsibility for selection of the ethics committee with the body, and we think that will be helpful.”
Previously, the House speaker appointed an ad hoc ethics committee when a complaint was received.
“We do, however, disagree, and many of these are old parts of the rules, with the fact that only members may make complaints,” Rusche said. “And it probably, to our mind, would have been better had it been equal majority and minority, much like the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee is. However, in total, we think this probably is an improvement.”
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, asked Rusche, “Was that debate in favor or opposition?” Rusche, who then voted “no,” responded, “That was a statement of appreciation, rather than debate.” The measure needed a two-thirds vote of the full House, or 47 votes, to take effect, so it's now final.