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Eye On Boise

Four lawmakers aired Sharia law concerns before House committee killed child-support bill

On April 1, two state representatives and two state senators met with Health & Welfare officials and the Attorney General’s office to air their concerns that a child support enforcement law, SB 1067, would potentially lead to Idaho having to enforce child support decisions rendered under Sharia law, Idaho Statesman reporter Bill Dentzer writes today. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, said he thought the lawmakers’ concerns were routine; nine days later, on the final day of this year’s legislative session, the committee voted 9-8 to table the bill, endangering $46 million in federal funds and potentially cutting off Idaho’s access to the federal system it uses to enforce $200 million a year in child support payments for Idaho kids.

“I didn’t have the slightest idea that this wouldn’t go through,” Wills told Dentzer. “It’s turned into a nightmare. I think we’re going to pay a terrible price if we don’t get it taken care of.”

The four lawmakers: Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, who isn’t on the Judiciary committee; Lynn Luker, R-Boise, who is; and Sens. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood. Both Nonini and Nuxoll voted in favor of SB 1067 when it passed the Senate unanimously on March 20, but Nuxoll testified to the House committee that she’d changed her mind, and was concerned that complying with federal requirements to conform to an international treaty might force Idaho to enforce Islamic law.

The April 1 meeting came six days after Barbieri hosted a luncheon for a dozen lawmakers entitled, “The True Face of Islam in Idaho,” at which a guest speaker warned that Muslims are trying to infiltrate and influence conservative communities in the West, charges that have drawn outrage from Idaho religious and human rights leaders. Now, Gov. Butch Otter is mulling whether to call state lawmakers back for a special session to address the child-support enforcement issue; yesterday, he said the killing of the bill in committee “put Idaho’s child support system at serious risk.” Dentzer’s full report is online here.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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