Idaho lawmakers could lose wage garnishment protection

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers would lose a long-standing protection from wage garnishment if legislation introduced Thursday becomes law.

Lawmakers and other elected officials are exempt from having their wages garnished for court judgments in Idaho, according to Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, who introduced legislation to remove the exemption.

Morse said his bill would treat elected officials like anyone else.

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, spoke out against the bill and opposed introducing it.

“During the Legislature, we are doing the people’s business,” Barbieri said, and shouldn’t “be distracted by such things as this.” He asked his fellow lawmakers to “reflect for a moment on how intense this three months is” and the “emotional drain,” and said, “This exception makes a lot of sense to me.”

However, he was outvoted, and the House State Affairs Committee agreed to introduce Morse’s bill.

Morse said the exemption dates to 1939 and only bars state court garnishments of elected officials’ pay – not federal courts. That’s why former state Rep. Phil Hart’s entire legislative salary was able to be garnished by the IRS for his federal income tax debts, but state courts couldn’t do the same.

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