Representative Ron Nate talks about SB1067, the fallout and what’s next?
Rep. Nate: I want to make it clear that if you read bill 1067 there is nothing in the bill regarding federal funding for child support or enforcement in Idaho. There is nothing in the bill regarding the tools of child support enforcement in Idaho or welfare funds. All of the possibilities of losing those funds are external threats from the federal government. The committee was not voting on any of those, the committee was voting on whether or not to add these provisions for international child support enforcement to our existing statutes. It’s really unfortunate that the federal government felt that they needed to threaten Idaho to get these provisions through. That argument is kind of spun out on to a tangent here. The real issue would be is this a good bill for Idaho? Are these foreign child enforcement provisions good? By and large I think they are good, but by and large we were a little nervous that they didn’t provide the proper protections for data security, and that it would open up foreign governments and entities to our federal parent locater service data base and our national directory of new hire data base, and we wanted to have those protections. The other concern was it looked like Idaho might be enforcing orders that were ill gotten or unfair because there weren’t proper protections for Idaho to review the orders to review the merits of the case or to review the facts of the case. We would just be tied into enforcing whatever foreign orders came in. Those were the concerns, and that’s why I and a majority of the committee voted against it.
Kevin: Were you aware of the strings that would happen afterwards, as you just mentioned the bill didn’t have to do with child welfare or anything else. Was that even brought up in the committee that all of a sudden we would, have this huge crushing sound from folks within the legislature and the media saying that were going to lose all of these millions of dollars.
Rep. Nate: Absolutely those threats were brought up in committee, but not all at once. It’s interesting how the time line went on this. The very first day of testimony they said we need to enact these to be in compliance with the federal guidelines, or we stand to lose $16 million in child support enforcement. As the committee asked more and more question, they added in that we could lose $30 million dollars of welfare funding because our child support enforcement is part of our welfare agreement as well. Then the next day they added in that we would lose the child support enforcement tools that the federal government provides and then told the legislature that we wouldn’t be able to collect $200 million of child enforcement orders on behalf of families. So it really makes the committee nervous when the threat escalates during committee testimony. That actually raised more red flags than making us more comfortable with the legislation.
Kevin: Why do you think this was brought up at the end of the legislative season as opposed to doing it earlier?
Rep. Nate: If you look at the bill number 1067 it was introduced probably in the middle or the first third of the session. It went through the Senate, and by the time it got over to the house we were in the last two weeks, but it was held in committee for at least a week. I kept asking the committee chairman when are we going to hear this, but it wasn’t first presented to us until the Thursday, and on that Thursday many of us thought that it might be the last day of the session, but the bill got held up, and we had another day of testimony on it. I don’t know why it was held until the very end, but we take them as they come. It’s the prerogative of leadership and committee chairs as to when we hear things.
Kevin: So for the media and everything else going that you are – well I don’t want to lead the witness. What are you hearing about your decision on this in your own words uncensored and unfiltered. You’ve got a lot of speculation, and we’ve got you on to get your side of the story out, and we would love to hear it.
Rep. Nate: Absolutely, and I’ve been hearing words of support and words of I can’t believe you’d vote that way. I noticed on your website this morning the poll was that 50% blame this on the Obama Administration and another 11% on the UN, and so I think the public out there is getting it right. This wasn’t a problem of the legislature or the committee, it’s a problem with the federal government threatening states to get what they want, and actually there’s a lot of legal precedence on this. It is illegal for the federal government to impose penalties or make threats to states in order to get them to enact legislation that they want. In 1992, N.Y. vs the U.S. the Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot use threats to get states to enact legislation.
Kevin: Representative Nate, where do we go from here? Do you believe that there should or will be a special session of the legislature?
Rep. Nate: I do not think there should be a special session. Here is the reason why; it’s because we were willing to pass this legislation if we could put in those proper protections, and they weren’t hard to do. We had the amendments drafted to do that, but they told us the department of Health and Welfare said we cannot add a word or take away a word, it has to be exactly verbatim, and that’s the federal government’s requirement. If that’s the case, I think we’re at an impasse. Coming back I think the committee would say without these protections we’re uncomfortable with this legislation, and the law is on our side here saying that the federal government cannot follow through on these threats. Another case I forgot to mention was The National Federation of Independent Fitness vs Sebelius. This was with Obamacare, and in that ruling the Supreme Court said the federal government cannot force states to accept Medicaid expansion by threating to take away Medicaid money, and this case is exactly like that.
Kevin: What about the loss of funding because most of us on the radio and other forms of media are going well we’re going to lose all of this money, its doom and gloom for Idaho and doom and gloom for the GOP. Your right in the middle of this.
Rep. Nate: I have two things to say about that. First of all I don’t think they can take away the money. Like I said they can’t use legal threats that they can take away money to force us into legislation that we’re uncomfortable with. Number two, even if for some reason they set a new precedent in the courts and reverse themselves and took away money, the only thing at risk is the child support enforcement money of $16 million, and we are going to be about $100 million ahead of revenue projections this year. Idaho can handle this on their own. If the federal government wants to take away the child support enforcement tools, they are not only hurting Idaho, they are hurting all 49 other states because those tools allow Idaho to do its work that allows those other states to do their work with Idaho. So I don’t think the federal government can credibly take away those tools from us and the other 49 states.
Bob in Boise: I’m going to throw in my support for the fellows that actually stood up and did what we sent them down there to do. To sort this stuff out and not just rubber stamp it. I think they did a wonderful job. I think this ought to be dropped now, and I don’t think the governor should have a special session. I think the committee did exactly what they were put in there to do. Thank You
Rep. Nate: I appreciate that Bob and I agree with you completely. If we were there to rubber stamp things then why have a legislature, why not just let the feds write the rules for us. I also want to note on the committee make up here. It is perfectly reasonable and understandable that the four democrats on the committee would want to rubber stamp this. Therefore, just doing what the feds want typically. What’s clear here is that the other member’s nine Republicans vs four other Republicans were voting to reject this. That’s more than a two to one ratio on the Republican side that we were not going to simply rubber stamp this.
Kevin: We go to Tea Party Bob who is responsible for booking Representative Nate. Good morning sir you’re on the air.
Tea Party Bob: Good Morning Kevin and Representative Nate. Just a couple questions, and I’ll let you answer them while I get off the phone. Why is the Governor making such a huge deal out of this and sent out letters to all of the recipients of child support. Is that to scare them into contacting their representatives and make it go his way? Do you believe this program should be funded by our state and not the federal government? We take so much money from the federal government now with 36% of our budget now federally funded. Isn’t it time we got off the federal dole and started to do things on our own and were responsible for our own problems? Thank you very much.
Rep. Nate: As far as the governor directing to send out those letters, I think it’s a scare tactic and I think it’s unfortunate. It wasn’t so long ago that we had the same governor who was party to a law suit suing the federal government over Obamacare being forced on the states, and now it seems we have a complete 180 where the governor is controlling the legislature into doing whatever the feds say for the fear of losing $16 million dollars or whatever the threat is.
Kevin: He said do you believe that Idaho is too dependent on the feds, and do you think we should be funding our own programs?
Rep. Nate: Idaho is too dependent on the feds. Thirty six percent of our budget is too much to depend on the feds. A noted author Vernon Howard once said “A good measure of freedom is the number of things you can walk away from” and if we can’t walk away from federal dollars or another federal mandate we are not truly free. Idaho, to the extent that we fund and do things ourselves is truly free, and we found that with Common Core they threatened to take away money; therefore, all the districts have to run the SBAC test. Time and time again every time we go up against the federal government they threaten to take away money, they threaten to impose different rules and sanctions on us, and we’re finding that we are becoming a subsidiary or even slaves of the federal government because they pull all of the strings.
Kevin: Rep. Nate we appreciate it and would love to have you back.
Rep. Nate: Thank you Kevin, and thank you for having me on and hopefully we can save the state some money and not go back to a special legislative session as we have plenty of other priorities besides beating our heads against the wall over this. I also want to note that the members of the committee love children. I’m in favor of child support enforcement, and I think it’s a legitimate proper role of government in the judicial process that people should be responsible for their actions, should be responsible for their children and should be held to it. Idaho needs to run its own program.