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2015 Idaho Legislature 2.0


Lawmakers are travelling from every corner of the Gem State to make it back to the Idaho Statehouse by early morning on Monday, May 18, for a one-note encore of the 2015 Idaho Legislature. Most members of the Idaho House and Senate will sit in their offices or roam the halls of the Statehouse, while members of the House and Senate Judiciary Rules committees meet in joint session in the Lincoln Auditorium, expected to gavel in at 9:30 a.m. At the special session, Dick Armstrong, Director of the Department of Health and Welfare will present House Bill 1, the "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act."

Even casual observers of Idaho politics know the bill brings Idaho into line with federal guidelines to ensure U.S. dollars fuel the system responsible for collecting and distributing child support payments. In early April, Republican members of the House Judiciary and Rules Committee voted 9-8 to table a similar measure, and the entire legislature adjourned for the year shortly thereafter. 

A tailspin of controversy followed the vote, triggering scores of petitions and emails to flood lawmakers' in-boxes and ultimately triggering Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter to call the special session to wrap up the unfinished business. Armstrong had warned the legislature if it did not approve an appropriate bill, tens of thousands of Idaho children were at risk of not receiving adequate support. Some members of the House committee have since indicated they would support the revised version of the measure.

As for technical details of what will happen Monday morning, the House Ways and Means Committee will take the bill first when the committee convenes at 9 a.m. The committee will then quickly refer the measure to a joint session of the House and Senate Judiciary Rules Committee. Armstrong will be the first to talk, at length, about the bill, which will be followed by public testimony. Members of the public will be limited to remarks of no longer than three minutes each. The house members of the session are expected next to send the measure to the full House. If successful in the House, the bill will then go back to a quickly-convened meeting of the Senate Judiciary Rules Committee, which is expected to send the bill over the full Senate. If successful again, Governor Otter will then immediately sign it into law. Otter has already indicated he has cleared most of his schedule for the day.