Idaho (Mostly) Overcomes Fear Of Islam, Approves Child Support Bill

Idaho legislators almost torpedoed an international treaty on child support out of an irrational fear of Islamic law. In April, the House defeated a bill that would approve new federal rules on child support enforcement. All of the states must approve the rules in order for families to collect child support from a parent living abroad.

The consequence for their ‘no’ vote would be that the state opted out of the federal monitoring and enforcement system altogether. The effect would be enormous. A quarter of Idaho’s children — 155,000 kids — would potentially lose $205 million a year in payments that are collected, to say nothing of $16 million that the federal government grants Idaho for enforcement.

Representatives’ reasoning (using the word loosely) was that the trigger for rewriting the rules — an international treaty on child support — could force state courts to enforce Sharia law. Never mind that the bill allows states to reject judgements that are “manifestly incompatible” with public policy.

The uproar over their decision forced the legislature into a special session — ordered by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter — that convened, and dismissed, on Monday. Their sole purpose was to approve the child support legislation after all.  The House approved it, 49-21, and the Senate quickly passed it as well, 33-2, sending it to the governor for his signature. The two dissenting senators were, of course, Republicans.

In an interesting twist, the opponents of the bill stopped using the fear that Sharia law would overtake the courts as an argument and instead railed about government overreach. Fanning anti-Islamic fears is apparently a convenient tool to getting one’s way and to cover up the real agenda.

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Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said:

We are throwing away our state sovereignty and due process for efficiency – that’s absurd.

When the public was given the opportunity to testify, single mothers gave tearful accounts of the negative impact on their children’s quality of life when they don’t get child support payments. Opponents included Bob Neugebauer, who said:

This bill is not about child support, it’s about extortion.

Katherine Frazier accused lawmakers of accepting bribery from the federal government and quoted the Bible:

…fire shall devour the houses of bribes.

The ‘sovereignty’ opponents don’t seem to realize that true sovereignty would rightfully mean forgoing the benefits of a larger association with the federal government. They seem to want their cake — federal dollars and enforcement procedures — and eat it, too — by refusing cooperation with the greater whole.

Cooler heads eventually won the day. House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, put the issue into perspective:

This vote is truly a statement of values. Do you support kids and families? Or do you support decisions based on fear and disinformation? Please think who you’re supporting.

Even more to the point, Senator Grant Burgoyne said:

It’s extremely important that regular Idahoans stay connected with their government. When they don’t, people who fill the vacuum can be extreme.

Idaho lawmakers just overruled their extremists. America, you’re up next!

Feature photo from Wikimedia Commons