Idaho governor releases revised child support bill, signaling consensus on adoption

Gov. Butch Otter on Monday released new draft legislation to bring Idaho’s child support program into compliance with federal rules, with changes that appear to answer concerns among lawmakers who must approve the legislation in special session May 18.

The release of the draft two weeks before lawmakers return to the Capitol for their one-day, one-bill special session was itself a sign that consensus is at hand on saving Idaho’s child support program from defunding and disruption.

“I want every parent and family relying on court-ordered child support payments to have the chance to review this bill,” the governor said in a statement accompanying the bill’s release. “I want every member of the Legislature to have a better understanding of what it does and does not do, and a fuller appreciation of what happens if we fail to act affirmatively.”

A House committee’s last-minute vote on April 10 to reject amended federal rules on cross-border child support enforcement put Idaho’s $205 million annual support payment program at risk, affecting 400,000 Idaho parents and children. Opposing lawmakers cited concerns that the amended rules would require the state to enforce cross-border support judgments that did not meet U.S. standards for fairness and due process.

Otter called the special session last week. State leaders indicated then that minor changes to the original bill to address privacy concerns and restate local control by Idaho courts had won over enough committee members to win it passage this time. Those changes, however, raised new concerns among another set of lawmakers in the Senate, requiring further fine-tuning.

“We had a good and vigorous conversation, as you should,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, who worked on the revisions with House members and the administration. “I support without hesitation the language that is in this bill.”

The new version adds several sections to stress Idaho’s right to reject orders that are “manifestly incompatible” with state policy, and require state officials to protect nonpublic personal information from “improper disclosure” and monitor proceedings involving foreign jurisdictions.