Let’s just flog the poor and children

By Michael H. O’Donnell

Idaho is a zany state.
I say this because every time the Gem State has a chance to help the most needy among us and collect a ton of federal money to make it happen, it seems to say, “No way, Jose.”
We’ve done it to people who aren’t poor enough to qualify for existing Medicaid, but don’t make enough to take part in the Affordable Care Act’s state exchange to secure medical insurance.
Now we’ve done it to women and children who rely on child support payments to get by in life.
Idaho loses millions and millions each year in federal support because it won’t expand Medicaid coverage as provided under that nasty Obamacare bill. And just in case you’re convinced no one likes the Affordable Care Act, Idaho ranks fourth per capita in the number of people who are taking advantage of it with more than 85,000 state residents signing up so far this year.
A last-minute fear campaign in the Idaho House Judiciary and Rules Committee led to a 9-8 vote to reject new federal rules to keep Idaho in compliance with international reciprocal child support legislation. Twenty states, including Utah, have enacted the rules, which ensure the collection of child support from parents who try to dodge their responsibilities.
The required legislation passed the Idaho Senate unanimously, and then it ran into a boogeyman — that incredible enemy of all things we hold dear — Shariah law.
The end result of the rejection by the Idaho House committee is the pending loss of $16 million to the state’s child support services and another $30 million in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funding.
But we’re safe from Shariah law.
For those who don’t pay attention to all things evil in the Islamic world, Shariah law is what happens when religion gets infused into government until it seems OK to flog people breaking a rule or stone women for going out in public without a veil. This goofy way of approaching the governance of people has shaped legislation in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar.
By the way, none of those countries are involved in the 2007 international treaty on cross-border child support issues which U.S. Congress approved and amended in 2008. It is designed to keep parents who are under court ordered child support to pay up even if they are living in a foreign country.
And it makes sense. It also makes sense that Idaho participates in a national effort to keep deadbeat dads from skipping out on providing for their children.
Two Idaho Republican women sounded the alarm about Islamic law seeping into Idaho before the committee vote. They were Rep. Heather Scott and Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, both from North Idaho.
You might remember Nuxoll. She was the senator who refused to listen to a Hindu prayer to open a session of the legislature because she’s a Christian.
“Hindu is a false faith with false gods,” she said when questioned about her boycott. “I think it’s great that Hindu people can practice their religion but since we’re the Senate, we’re setting an example of what we, Idaho, believe.”
Well, I’m an Idahoan and I don’t believe Nuxoll has any right to speak for all of us.
Her fear of all things different is fine until it impacts a large segment of this state’s population that needs help. Idaho processes $205 million in child support payments each year. The enforcement system has 155,000 cases involving 400,000 people and 183,000 of them are kids.
When I was an editor and reporter in Power County, I remember well the day child support payments were due at the courthouse. Men would line up in the clerk’s office at the courthouse and pull out their checkbooks with a look of disdain. Grudgingly, they would fill out the amount they owned and hand it over.
I nicknamed the event, “Unhappy Pappy Day.”
And these guys would grumble.
“How do I know she’s making sure this money goes to the kids?”
“She’s probably just spending this on new clothes so she can go on a date.”
“I never trusted that — (pick your slur for a female).
Well, they trusted those women enough to get married and have children, so that seems like a twisted assessment of reality.
It’s almost as twisted as the handful of legislators who think it’s perfectly acceptable to put 183,000 children at risk because they have some unsubstantiated fears about the Muslim world getting a death grip on Idaho. Our state maybe zany, but it doesn’t have to be irresponsible.
I’d like Sen. Nuxoll to explain what’s Christian about turning our backs the poor and children.
If Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter doesn’t call a special session to remedy this mistake, maybe a good public flogging would be in order.
  Michael H. O’Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.