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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Legislative committee’s action threatens Idaho child support system

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter must call the Legislature back into session.

If he does not do so at his scheduled news conference Thursday, the good work done on schools and transportation will be diminished by an irresponsible committee vote that tabled legislation essential to Idaho participation in federal child support and family assistance programs.

The failure to comply with new requirements will affect 400,000 Idahoans – 25 percent of the state’s population.

If the Legislature does not act within 60 days, $16.1 million in federal funds that pay most state child support administrative costs will be cut off. About 100 state employees responsible for 155,000 child support cases, many involving multiple children, will lose their jobs.

More than $30 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant money would be in jeopardy.

And none of the federal administrative and computer resources essential to managing $205 million in child support would be available.

The damage to Idaho’s efficient child support system, which returns $7.66 in child support for every $1 spent, would be profound. The only beneficiaries would be the parents who have forsaken their children.

Finding them, and extracting payments, depends on systems that link every state and the U.S. to 79 other countries.

Both the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act and Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Family Maintenance are intended to protect the prerogatives of the states or nations where child support cases originate, and allow for the exchange of information about fugitive parents.

The Attorney General’s Office did its best to explain to lawmakers how the law and treaty protect Idaho. In vain.

The nine representatives who killed Senate Bill 1067 concluded that U.S. participation in the Hague Convention, which also has Muslim-majority nations among its signatories, exposed Idaho to potential imposition of Sharia law. No matter that none of these nations has imposed Sharia on itself.

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, among those who made this feeble connection, dismisses notification that Idaho will be cut off from the child support grid as a bluff. That’s what Washington’s Legislature thought last year, when they assumed the U.S. Department of Education would waive a requirement that teacher evaluations be based in part on student performance.

It didn’t, and Washington school districts lost control of $40 million.

Both houses of the Washington Legislature approved the changes to the child welfare requirements unanimously, as did Idaho’s Senate. Other states are expected to comply before their legislative sessions end, the deadline set last year.

Yet Scott, along with Shannon McMillan, of Silverton, Kathleen Sims, of Coeur d’Alene, and Don Cheatham, of Post Falls, concluded that Sharia was nigh.

Rather than ponder the danger of Sharia, they should ask themselves why a Democratic administration in Washington, D.C., would not lower the boom on Republican-ruled Idaho.

Call them back to Boise, governor.

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