- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An Idaho lawmaker apologized Monday to colleagues in the House and asked them to convene an ethics committee to examine her vote against legislation that would have hurt her financially.

Without disclosing a conflict of interest, Rep. Shannon McMillan, a Republican from Silverton, said she voted against a bill that would allow the paychecks of legislators to be garnished for state court judgments.

McMillan has multiple civil judgments against her, and one attempt to garnish her state paycheck was denied because she is exempt from such actions as a lawmaker, The Spokesman-Review (http://bit.ly/1kPeBHL) reported.

“I humbly rise before you today and declare that I did have a Rule 38 conflict,” McMillan told the House, “and I ask for your forgiveness. I am asking for a House Ethics Committee review of my actions.”

McMillian said she would identify future conflicts promptly to “meet the high ethical standards of this body and my fellow members.”

House ethics rules permit members to vote on an issue in which they have a conflict of interest, but only after they’ve disclosed it.

However, when the paycheck bill came to a vote Wednesday, McMillan made no comment as she cast one of only two votes against the legislation. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, is now pending in the Senate.

Morse said the exemption for legislators has been on the books since 1939, and it was time to remove it.

“Elective officials should not enjoy any rights to avoid paying any debts or their taxes.” he said.

The exemption kept tax-protesting former state Rep. Phil Hart’s legislative wages from being garnished for back state taxes. But it didn’t apply to federal garnishments, and the IRS garnished his entire legislative paycheck. Morse defeated Hart in the 2012 GOP primary.

House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said the House Ethics Committee will convene as requested, and has a variety of options available for possible sanctions.

Bedke said House leaders learned of McMillan’s conflict of interest on Friday, and he asked McMillan about it over the weekend.

Bedke said he commended McMillan for “recognizing her lapse.”


Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com