Idaho governor calls special session to pass child support bill

By Laura Zuckerman SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Idaho's governor called on Wednesday for a special legislative session to pass a bill that would bring the state's child support program into compliance with U.S. law, despite lawmakers' fears of federal overreach. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families told the conservative Western state it had until June 12 to bring its state child-support laws into compliance or face funding cuts that would affect more than 400,000 children and parents, or one in four Idaho residents. Republican Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter called lawmakers back to work for a special session on May 18 after a Republican-led House of Representatives committee failed to vote on a bill before the end of the 2015 session that had been passed earlier this month by the Senate. "It's the deadbeat parent we're after here," Otter said on Wednesday. "It's our responsibility to hold them responsible." Legislation is needed to bring Idaho into compliance with federal law and a 2007 treaty approved by the United States and more than 68 other nations providing for a uniform set of procedures for processing international child support cases, according to the Virginia-based National Child Support Enforcement Association. Supporters of the bill say a failure by lawmakers to act could lose the state nearly $50 million in U.S. child support and welfare funding and more than $200 million in private payments to Idaho children. Critics say the bill was an infringement on the state's rights and might compel Idaho to enforce child support decisions issued by courts in countries that practice Islamic law. Otter said discussions he has had with dissenting lawmakers led him to believe a retooled version would gain passage, but specifics on a revised law were unavailable. Representative Ronald Nate, a Republican who voted with the committee to shelve the original bill, said the new one will protect residents' privacy from a prying federal government and allow Idaho to review the merits of child support enforcement orders from outside the state. (Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Eric Walsh)

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