With a 67-1 vote of the Idaho House this morning, lawmakers have sent legislation granting raises to the state’s judges and justices to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk. “The judges and justices in the state of Idaho are some of the lowest paid in the nation, and this is something we need to address,” House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, told the House. He said judges haven’t gotten a raise since 2009. The bill would grant raises over the next two years, varying by the level of judge. “It gets us moving in the direction we need to do as we solve this problem,” Moyle said.
Sen. John Gannon, D-Boise, said amid laughter, “I do practice in front of these judges, and I just feel like I should have a Rule 38.” That’s the rule requiring lawmakers to disclose conflicts of interest before casting votes. Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, who like Gannon is a lawyer, said, “I suppose I need to chime in. It probably is not a Rule 38 (conflict), but we do practice in front of these judges and we are voting to give them more money, and it doesn’t feel quite right if we don’t say something about it.” Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, another lawyer, offered a one-word comment: “Ditto.”
The only “no” vote came from Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis. Top judges would get pay increases next year ranging from 7.5 percent to 11 percent under the bill; district judges would see an 8.5 percent increase, and magistrates would get a 2.5 percent boost. The following year, Supreme Court justices would see an additional 3.7 percent increase to $140,000 a year, with the chief justice rising to $142,000.