Statesman Editorial: Otter must intervene on child support decision

Some weeks ago we applied the maxim that “nothing good happens after midnight” to our Idaho Legislature, fearing some last-minute maneuvering might produce a rash or regrettable outcome. Well, it happened.

Before midnight Friday in the waning hours of the 2015 session the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee voted 9-8 to reject federal child support rules – which has had the effect of putting the state system in limbo and jeopardizing “$46 million in direct federal aid and more than $200 million in child support collections the state processes annually,” according to Bill Dentzer’s report in the Idaho Statesman Tuesday.

We get the rationale of those who voted against these federal mandates, but we don’t buy it. Some members on the committee feared Idaho would have to enforce child support decisions by foreign jurisdictions – perhaps even having to accept Sharia law.

Not even Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg – who has written a Guest Opinion today defending his vote to reject SB 1067 – believes that part about Sharia law. But he does believe “. . .our ham-handed federal government threatened to punish Idaho children and ex-spouses for Idaho not signing onto a restrictive and problematic set of international standards for Child Support Enforcement (CSE).”

Last September Congress passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which includes the requirement for all states to enact the 2008 Amendments (provisions of the 2007 Hague Convention are included) to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act during their prospective 2015 Legislative sessions.

So far 20 states have enacted the measures, which haven’t been popular everywhere, and we get that. But here’s our problem. Though there may be 60 days to figure this out and avoid consequences, the Legislature arguably set this child support system on fire after midnight and then walked away. We know people like Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, saw the magnitude of the problem and warned his colleagues.

It was irresponsible for the Legislature to take this action without making a provision for interim funding or administration – something, anything before assigning the matter to fate.

Gov. Butch Otter is on cleanup and needs to fix it – even if that means calling a special session to get it done.

Anti-federal ideology and principle make the world go ‘round when it is convenient. This action on SB 1067 stopped it.

Statesman Editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.