As Idaho lawmakers craft an exit plan from the Statehouse, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took up three last-minute bills this morning involving the hottest topic of this year's session: ethics.
One, clearly the result of this month's ethics investigation into New Plymouth Republican Sen. Monty Pearce, would require full conflict-of-interest disclosures in committee hearings, as well as on the Senate floor. Pearce was accused of not disclosing his personal lease agreement with an oil and gas exploration company while, at the same time shepherding oil and gas legislation through the Senate Resources and Environment Committee, where he serves as chairman. The ethics complaint was dismissed, but Pearce admitted later he should have disclosed in committee.
A second ethics-related measure introduced this morning removes a requirement of a two-thirds majority vote by the full Senate to dismiss a Senate employee.
A third bill would filter all Senate ethics complaints through a Senate Ethics Committee before deciding on a full investigation. The committee would meet in closed-door executive session without any public access.
All three measures passed through committee and are heading to the full Senate for consideration.