A brouhaha over the child support enforcement bill killed on the final day of the legislative session is dividing the House GOP. First, former Rep. Cindy Agidius sent out an article by Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, with the message: “Explanation of SB 1067 by Rep Lynn Luker. Please find attached an editorial by Representative Lynn Luker regarding the concerns surrounding SB1067.” Her email was signed, “Cindy Agidius, Communications Director, House Majority Caucus.” You can read Luker’s piece here.
Agidius’ email went to all members of the press covering this year’s legislative session, plus all 56 Republicans in the House, on Saturday evening. It didn’t take long for the reply-alls to start hitting from lawmakers.
At 1:26 p.m. on Sunday, Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, wrote, “Representative Luker does not speak for Idaho or me. Scuttling 1067 without debate was heavy-handed opportunistic theatrics at the expense of single-parents and children...the most vulnerable in our society. I do not support the erratic behavior that will lead to the dismantling of our child support system, nor the implication that this mockery of a legal analysis in any way represents our Republican caucus.”
Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, responded at 2:22 p.m. “I for one don't know the specifics of this legislation. I can’t speak to the merits of these arguments however I will not allow Mr. Luker to be perceived as speaking for me or the caucus. Because this was distributed to the press as a response to the action of holding this bill it is imperative that the press know that this is a limb that Rep. Luker is out on by himself at this time. Rep. Luker may be right, he may be wrong but on an issue that affects so many and so drastically he does not speak for me especially at this time.”
Luker was one of nine members of the House Judiciary Committee who voted, in a 9-8 vote, to table SB 1067, the child support enforcement bill that had earlier passed the Senate unanimously, after Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll and members of the John Birch Society raised fears that it would subject Idahoans to Sharia and foreign laws, by acceding to a 2007 international treaty. The bill was killed despite warnings from the state Department of Health & Welfare that it’s a requirement to conform with federal regulations, and without it, Idaho will lose access to the federal child support enforcement system, endangering its system for enforcing $200 million a year in child-support payments to Idaho children, plus lose up to $46 million in federal funds and have to lay off 100 state employees.
At 3:03 p.m. Sunday, Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, weighed in with this: “I certainly hope this was not represented as a Majority Caucus response. If it was, it should be immediately withdrawn. Rep Luker is entitled to his opinion, legal and personal. It is not my opinion, and I do not want to be associated in any way with it. By the way, can anyone explain why we still have a caucus media director? The caucus has no way of meeting. There should be no information being presented to the public representing anything about the caucus.”
The next response, from Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, came at 3:11 p.m. With a winking smiley-face, he wrote, “Well if there is a conference committee please don't put me on it.”
At 6:16 p.m. on Sunday, Agidius sent this all-caps email to the press: “THE EDITORIAL SENT OUT WRITTEN BY LYNN LUKER IS HIS PERSONAL OPINION AND DOES NOT REPRESENT THE OPINION OF THE ENTIRE HOUSE GOP CAUCUS. THERE ARE ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO EVERY ISSUE AND IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE WILL BE AN EDITORIAL FROM THE OTHER SIDED TO SHARE TOMORROW. IF THERE HAS BEEN ANY CONFUSION AS TO WHOSE OPINION THIS EDITORIAL WAS, I OFFER MY SINCERE APPOLOGIES.”