Calling the recent debacle surrounding the failure of the Idaho Legislature to align Idaho with federal child support standards as a "human tragedy," Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong confirmed Thursday morning that more than 150,000 letters would be sent to Idaho households that receive child support payments.
In effect, the letters warn that Idaho is at risk of not being able to collect and/or process non-voluntary child support.
Idaho has received a 60-day notice from federal officials, warning that the state needs to cure its child support enforcement problem, caused by a Idaho House committee's vote to kill a measure that would have brought Idaho in line with federal standards.
In a prepared statement on Thursday, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said there was still "unfinished business," indicating that he was laying the groundwork to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with the outstanding crisis. Otter confirmed that Idaho has until June 12 or June 14 to come up with a solution, "otherwise we're going to suffer the unintended consequences."
ORIGINAL STORY: April 15, 2015
It only took a few hours after the 2015 session of the Idaho Legislature concluded April 11 for lawmakers to begin sniping at one another. This time it wasn't elephants versus donkeys—it was a pachyderms-only rhubarb.
The bickering began when Boise Rep. Lynn Luker decided to gloat over the defeat of Senate Bill 1067, which had been designed to bring Idaho in line with federal regulations on child support payments. Luker said the bill had "serious risks and flaws" in its alignment with international agreements which critics linked to Sharia law. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare immediately warned in nixing the bill, lawmakers had put the Gem State at risk of losing $16 million in federal child support funding.
Making matters worse, Luker's criticism of the bill was pushed out to local media outlets by the Idaho House Majority Caucus, prompting a few of his own GOP brethren to cry foul.
"Representative Luker does not speak for Idaho or me."Scuttling SB 1067 without debate was heavy-handed opportunistic theatrics at the expense of single parents and children," said Coeur d'Alene Rep. Luke 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."
Nampa Rep. Robert Anderst chimed in, saying, "I will not allow Mr. Luker to be perceived as speaking for me or the caucus."
Burley Rep. Fred Wood added, "It is not my opinion. I do not want to be associated in any way with it."
That was enough for the House GOP Caucus Communications Director to back-pedal, writing that Luker's comments did "not reflect the opinion of the entire House GOP Caucus." By then, yet another Republican, Meridian Rep. Joe Palmer, had heard enough.
"Well, if there is a conference committee, please don't put me on it," wrote Palmer.