[Vision2020] Negotiated at The Hague, a Child Support Treaty Falters in Boise

Saundra Lund v2020 at ssl1.fastmail.fm
Tue Apr 21 10:52:54 PDT 2015

Idaho:  the land of the truly mentally unhinged legislators hell bent and
determined to win the race to the bottom on the backs of already born




Negotiated at The Hague, a Child Support Treaty Falters in Boise


Taryn Thompson, right, with her daughter Faith. Ms. Thompson, a divorced
mother in Kootenai County, Idaho, said she depended on child support. Credit
Rajah Bose for The New York Times 

POST FALLS, Idaho - It took five years for negotiators to work out the
details of a multinational treaty on child support that would make it easier
to track delinquent parents around the world. It took only a couple of
minutes for a committee of the Idaho Legislature to endanger America's

In a 9-to-8 vote in the closing hours of the legislative session, the House
Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee killed a bill that state and
federal officials had said was crucial to the finely crafted choreography of
the child support treaty
<http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=131>  reached at
The Hague. All 50 states must approve the mechanics of the treaty for
American ratification to proceed, and 19 have signed off thus far.

A major factor seems to be Idaho's ornery streak, the part of the state's
identity that does not like the federal government - or, worse still,
foreign governments - telling it what to do.

In Boise, the state capital, members of the committee - which is dominated
by Republicans, as is the Legislature as a whole - raised concerns about
foreign tribunals, perhaps ones based on Shariah
ic_law/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> , the Islamic legal code,
potentially making decisions under the treaty that Idaho might not like. At
least 32 countries, along with the European Union, have ratified the


Preschool students in Coeur d'Alene. State legislators' decision not to act
on a child support treaty could endanger federal money for Head Start.
Credit Rajah Bose for The New York Times

"I'm concerned about women's rights in some of these countries,"
Representative Heather Scott, a Republican member of the committee, said
during a hearing on the bill.
<http://legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2015/S1067.pdf>  "I'm seeing a
problem," added Ms. Scott, who ultimately voted along with eight other
Republicans to table the bill without sending it to the full House for a

The stakes are potentially immense, both for child support recipients across
the nation, who risk losing the benefits that the treaty protects, and for
parents and children in Idaho - particularly poor ones - who will lose
various federal subsidies unless legislators change their minds.

Federal officials said that $16 million in funding for Idaho's child welfare
system would be cut within 60 days, effectively dismantling the state's
child support enforcement arm, which can take steps like garnishing a
parent's pay. Another $30 million in block grants could dry up too,
including federal money for Head Start, the preschool program for low-income

"People are realizing the dimensions, and it's blowing wide open," said
Taryn Thompson, 35, a divorced mother in Kootenai County who depends on
child support.

Idaho residents and political leaders, finding themselves in the spotlight,
have reacted with anger and fear that children might pay the price, but also
in some cases with a kind of prickly pride. Idaho, in the face of what felt
to some legislators on the committee like bullying from the federal
government, had hit right back.

To Ryan Kerby, a Republican and first-term state representative, a good part
of his vote came down to simple courtesy. He was not, he said, about to be
told what to do by mostly nameless federal officials who had communicated
their demands to the state, and then would not grant legislators more time
to think about it.

"You need to sign it, and if you don't we're going to beat the crud out of
you," Mr. Kerby said, paraphrasing the pressure he felt. "They were
incredibly rude."

Idaho's governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, will almost certainly
have to call the Legislature into a special session if the bill and the
treaty questions are to be addressed again, legal experts said. Mr. Otter
said at a news conference on Thursday that he was not prepared to do that

Other Idahoans are just scratching their heads. The child support bill,
through most of the legislative session leading up to the committee's vote
on the final day of work at the capital on April 10, had drawn little
attention or controversy. The Senate passed it unanimously and without

"It's an interesting issue because no one, even those in the room, seems to
understand exactly what happened, and the long-term implications are so
unclear," said Shaakirrah R. Sanders, an associate law professor at the
University of Idaho and an expert on constitutional law.

The people with the most to lose are women who, through violence or a bitter
divorce, have been left fearful of personally pressuring an ex-husband for
child support, or even perhaps of being found by him. That is not uncommon
here in Kootenai County, a mostly rural part of northern Idaho that has the
highest rate in the state of what the Idaho State Police categorizes as
"intimate partner violence."

"Yes, we in Idaho don't like the federal government telling us what to do or
not do," said Deb Wheeler, 56, who works in Post Falls as an operations
manager and is raising a 17-year-old son. She said her ex-husband pays his
support reliably and would do so even without the state enforcement
apparatus, but she has friends who are not so lucky. "This affects real
people," Ms. Wheeler said.

Some lawmakers said in the committee's hearings on the bill that they were
in fact trying to protect women in Idaho, who might have a child support
case adjudicated under the treaty by a foreign tribunal that might not treat
women as equals. Some singled out Shariah as a source of that fear.

Under the treaty - worked out by The Hague Conference on Private
International Law, a global intergovernmental organization with more than 80
members - participant countries agree to enforce child support judgments
across boundaries.

Thomas Dayley, one of the legislators who voted not to send the bill to the
floor, said in the hearing that the federal government seemed to be
threatening Idaho's children by withholding money.

"It would be their choice, that they would deny us that money and they would
say to our children, 'no,'" said Mr. Dayley, a Republican.

Idaho's child support program director, Kandace Yearsley, testifying on
behalf of the bill, disagreed.

"I believe that the federal government feels like that we're the ones
telling our children 'no,' because we're ones here that are making the
decision that says we're not going to participate," Ms. Yearsley said.

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