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Eye On Boise

Otter indicates he’s laying groundwork for special session, but not ready to call one yet

Gov. Butch Otter addresses reporters on Thursday (Betsy Russell)
Gov. Butch Otter addresses reporters on Thursday (Betsy Russell)

Asked if he’ll call a special session to fix Idaho’s child support enforcement crisis, Gov. Butch Otter called on Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong to give some background. First, though, Otter said, “I think it's important that we understand the consequences of doing nothing.” 

Armstrong said, “We have 60 days to cure the situation.” He said, “We are greatly concerned at the unintended consequences of this action, and certainly look to the governor and the legislature to help us find an answer, find a cure, so we can then go back to doing the business of supporting families in Idaho.”

Otter said under the timetable laid out by federal officials, “It’s either June 12 or June 14 that we’re going to have to have a solution, otherwise we’re going to suffer the unintended consequences.” He said he met with the House speaker and Senate president pro-tem this morning “to work out a path forward.” He’s directed Armstrong to send a letter out to all 155,000 Idaho households who receive child support payments to let them know what’s happening and how it could affect them.

Asked if he’s willing to do nothing and see if the federal government follows through on its threats to remove Idaho’s child support enforcement funding and access to federal enforcement tools, Otter said no. “That’s not even entered the discussion,” he said. “We are going to be engaged and we are going to do something.”

“I’m not prepared to stand up here today and tell you I’m going to call a special session, because I think there’s a lot of homework to do, in that if we were to have a special session, that we have a successful one,” Otter said. He said that will include “engaging the legislative leadership, the legislative committees, Health & Welfare on the issue, so that as we do go forward, it’s not another issue that we short-stroke. That was one of the complaints that we had. …. It’s going to be a very deliberative … process through the stakeholders.”

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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