BOISE - Gov. Butch Otter on Wednesday called lawmakers back to work over a failed child support bill previously rejected over concerns about Islamic law.
The special session will be the first since 2006, and Otter wants to use the overtime period to bring the state into compliance with federal rules.
He also must address the concerns of opponents who want to push back against federal government overreach and foreign encroachment into U.S. affairs.
If the bill fails again it could dismantle the Idaho's child support enforcement system and jeopardize state agency access to tens of millions of dollars in federal payouts.
The matter also has thrown into question U.S. involvement in an international treaty regarding cross-border child-support cases, since all 50 states must pass legislation conforming to the treaty's mechanisms before the U.S. can ratify it.
The act has breezed through other state capitols, and it cleared the Idaho Senate unanimously before hitting a roadblock in a House committee on the last day of the legislative session.
The measure failed by one vote after House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee members said the federal requirements threatened Idaho's sovereignty and could force the state to uphold Sharia court rulings - even as legal experts and others disputed the contention.
Health officials have given the state a June 12 deadline to remedy the noncompliance.
Otter said Wednesday he has met with legislative leadership to find a solution. "There is no alternative. We've discussed executive orders. We've discussed every other opportunity or possibility. A successful special session is the only way that we can hold people personally responsible," he said.
About $46 million in federal funding and access to enforcement tools allowing parents in one jurisdiction to collect payments in another are tied to the bill. The system is critical for collection and distribution of about $205 million in Idaho child support payments.
Otter declined to comment on the nine lawmakers whose opposition killed the bill. He said new proposed legislation would be released soon.
Republican Rep. Ryan Kerby from New Plymouth, one of the nine child support bill opponents, said the bill should pass easily during the special session.
Kerby said the compliance bill won't change, but there would likely be separate amendments to protect the opponents' concerns.
Idaho has 155,000 child support cases, with 97 involving foreign countries. About 60 of those are in Canada. Others are sprinkled throughout Europe and Australia.
This is the first special session Otter has called in his three terms. It will begin May 18.