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Eye On Boise

House panel approves revised ethics rule

The House Judiciary Committee has approved HR 2, the resolution to change the House’s ethics rule, Rule 76, to add a standing ethics committee and make other revisions. “We shared this with the minority and we had some very helpful, constructive things that we incorporated into this rule,” said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, who presented the rule change resolution; it now moves to the full House for a vote.

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, questioned why the new five-member standing committee would have three members from the majority and two from the minority, with a four-fifths vote required. “It seems like it might be possible to have equal representation, and just say it takes a majority,” she said. Luker said, “We did think about that quite a bit, and in fact the 3-2 split is still a greater proportion for the minority party than currently exists. … The four-fifths is actually a protection for the minority party, so that the majority party cannot railroad something through affecting the minority party.”

The new standing ethics committee, with its members elected by the minority and majority caucuses, would be formed within 12 days after the full House passed the resolution, HR 2; the resolution now heads to the full House for debate. It also adds more specific categories and definitions of ethical misconduct; clarifies that sanctions include reprimand, censure with or without conditions, and expulsion; and provides that the new commission would meet behind closed doors to review an ethics complaint, and if it found probable cause that a violation occurred, the complaint would become public and a public hearing would be held.

No one could serve on the ethics committee if he or she had previously been sanctioned by the House for an ethical violation. If a complaint is filed against a member of the committee, an alternative would step in for that member.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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