April 12, 2015
Factions of the Republican majority are blasting one another in the shadow of the defeat of a child support measure in one of final acts of the 2014 Idaho Legislature.
One side, voiced by Boise GOP Rep. Lynn Luker, was against the bill, saying the media had it all wrong when it focused on comments from another legislator who linked the proposal to Sharia Law. But another side, voiced by Coeur d'Alene Rep. Luke Malek, said the scuttling of the bill was "heavy handed opportunistic theatrics."
One day after the GOP-led defeat of Senate Bill 1067, which was designed to bring Idaho in line with federal regulations on child support payments, Luker pushed back against numerous media reports that some members of his party were uncomfortable with the bill's alignment with agreements from the Hague International Recovery of Child Support and Family Maintenance.
In particular, Cottonwood Republican Rep. Sheryl Nuxoll pointed to countries listed in the international treaty "that have recognized Sharia courts as quasi-courts."
"A few citizens who testified at the hearing raised concerns about SB1067 leading to enforcement of Sharia law in Idaho, which ended up as the major focus in news article. That was not the reason for holding the bill." wrote Luker, in a press release that was pushed out April 11th by the Idaho House Majority Caucus. "The bill and treaty have serious risks and flaws."
But Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Luke Malek fired back against Luker's comments. Sending out his own communique on April 12th, Malek, who is also a former deputy prosecuting attorney for Kootenai County, pulled no punches.
"Representative Luker does not speak for Idaho or me. Scuttling SB1067 without debate was heavy-handed opportunistic theatrics at the expense of single-parents and children, the most vulnerable in our society," wrote Malek. "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."
Additionally, Nampa Representative Robert Anderst said he wouldn't speak to the specifics of the legislation, "However I will not allow Mr. Luker to be perceived as speaking for me or the caucus. 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."
Burley Republican Rep. Fred Wood added, "Rep. Luker is entitled to his opinion, legal and personal. It is not my opinion; I do not want to be associated in any way with it."
Late Sunday, April 12, a statement from Cindy Agidius, Communications Director for the Idaho House Republican Caucus said, "The editorial sent out written by Lynn Luker is his personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the entire House GOP Caucus."
: April 11, 2015
A bill that would have helped Idaho track and enforce child support payments stalled Friday in the House Judiciary and Rules Committee over concerns that it would allow Sharia law into the U.S. Court system.
Senate Bill 1067
would have brought Idaho up to date with federal regulations, allowing the Gem State to use the government's system for tracking and enforcing child support payments.
The federal system is tied to the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which requires states using the federal tracking system to conform to 2008 amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
Therein lay the rub for some Idaho lawmakers, including Cottonwood Republican Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, well known for her comments comparing the Affordable Care Act to the Holocaust
and deriding Hinduism as "a false faith with false gods."
Amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act include agreements with the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Family Maintenance, which has among its members Muslim-majority countries such as Bosnia and Albania.
That was enough for Nuxoll and others to see an inroad for Sharia law into Idaho's justice system.
Quoted by the Associated Press
, Nuxoll told House committee members, "There is no specific language in the bill that would protect the rights of those dealing with parentage, child support and support orders from a foreign country that would contradict our laws here. There are other countries listed in the treaty—France, Belgium— that have recognized Sharia courts as quasi-courts. So I just feel that you should be aware of those facts."
The failure of the bill means that more than $16 million in federal funds to Idaho have been lost, and up to $30 million may be lost to the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to Idaho Reports.
Supporters of the bill have said that failing to pass SB 1067 would make Idaho a safe harbor for people avoiding paying child support because the state would not have the resources to enforce collections. Its detractors, including Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Kathy Sims, Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker and Nuxoll, said that its ties to international law are too close for comfort. Luker, who is an attorney, advised against passing the bill.
"We don't need to invite foreign law in Idaho," Sims said, according to the Coeur d'Alene Press
. "Rep. Luker is a very fine attorney, and I trust him."
According to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the notion that the bill would open the floodgates to other legal systems, including Sharia, is baseless. Attorney Scott Keim, who advised legislators about the measure over the phone
, said the bill would not have allowed any foreign government or justice system to have jurisdiction over an Idaho citizen unless that person moved to a foreign country. What's more, he told lawmakers that no countries currently involved in the Hague Convention operate under Sharia law.