Opinions / Op-eds

SB 1067: Idaho Doesn’t Always Twirl by Rep. Ronald M. Nate

It’s not right for Idaho to be bullied into losing protections for Idaho children and families just to keep a few more federal dollars, writes Rep. Ronald M. Nate (R-34)

Our dog, Boo, never twirls just because she wants to. But, when my daughter holds a treat in the air and says, “Twirl,” Boo jumps to her hind legs and twirls.

For centuries now, the federal government has been getting states to “twirl” by offering our tax dollars back to us. One recent, stark example was the federal government dangling special-needs education money to force compliance regarding Common Core testing requirements. Madison School District finally twirled; it will administer the SBAC test, and keep its money.

Another example is the federal government threatening to punish Idaho children and ex-spouses for Idaho not signing onto a restrictive and problematic set of international standards for Child Support Enforcement (CSE).

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The Idaho House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee was asked to do something ugly (bill S1067) for Idaho in order to secure CSE and other welfare money from the federal government (approximately $46 million). Fortunately, the majority on the committee (myself included) would not twirl.

To be clear, the committee DID NOT vote to end CSE in Idaho—those laws are still in place. The committee simply would not allow additional international mandates without protections. Idaho can and WILL STILL ENFORCE child support for children and ex-spouses.

S1067 is problematic—it requires Idaho to accept changes to its CSE guidelines that are verbatim and uniform to federal code, and subject Idaho to international laws. There are no allowances for adding amendments or language that protects Idaho from objectionable laws and provisions.

For example, when someone in Idaho has a foreign CSE order on them, S1067 says Idaho “…Is bound by the findings of fact on which the foreign tribunal based its jurisdiction; and… [m]ay not review the merits of the order.” This means that Idaho could be stuck enforcing unfair and ill-gotten CSE orders made in foreign countries.

The committee wanted to add language to protect Idaho from enforcing objectionable foreign orders. That was not allowed by federal guidelines—the bill had to remain un-amended.

Furthermore, the Feds threatened that Idaho could hold up the entire 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support. All fifty states must adopt the specific provisions for the treaty to be ratified. Only 19 have complied so far. Once all fifty have signed on, the treaty is ratified, warts and all.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states, “…all Treaties made, … under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby…”.

So, even if we could apply protections in the law for Idaho children and families, the law is subservient to the terms of the treaty—which is supreme.  Global law will supersede U.S. law. This issue is too important to pass without having a complete knowledge of the 2007 Hague (United Nations) Treaty.

Concerns were also raised over the sharing of Idahoan’s data through a global data-sharing component of the treaty. The representative from Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), Kandee Yearsley, stated that even though they were not sure of what was in the treaty yet, she expected us to pass the bill.  DHW was not prepared to answer many of our questions, and the Attorney General’s counsel answered questions with statements like, “I believe…”

The bill was thoroughly vetted. The committee heard over three hours of testimony and questions—but many of the answers were unsatisfactory and incomplete. The majority of the committee members were resistant to being bullied into accepting a bill without compromise, without proper protections, and without good, clear answers on what Idaho would become subject to—the committee tabled the bill.

It is true that Sharia law was mentioned once or twice in committee, but that was an absolute non-issue. None of the countries in the treaty have Sharia law. Of course, because the word was mentioned, the media is eager to report it as the key concern. It just isn’t so.

What is clear though, is that the Feds threatened to put the treat ($46m) back in the bag. But, here’s the thing. When Boo is just too tired to twirl, Maddie relents. She gives the treat without the twirl. The federal government is the same way—they don’t pull the money (no states have lost their funding). Fortunately, Idaho is $88 million dollars ahead in revenues this year. We can afford noncompliance.

But, we cannot afford to barter away our sovereignty every time a treat is dangled. Idaho is a State—not a lapdog of the Feds.

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