Lawmakers discuss US child support law but take no action
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — State officials said Tuesday that federal funding could be on the line if the Legislature fails to take action to change state laws regarding child support payments.
The Senate Finance Committee discussed a bill proposed by Gov. Bill Walker that would update state law to match federal changes, but it ultimately took no action. Committee co-chair Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, asked state officials to meet with lawmakers individually to address their concerns.
According to a letter from Walker, the bill would bring state child support law into line with an international treaty under which the United States and other nations enforce child-support orders for one another. The state must update its laws by July, Walker wrote.
In a February memo, state officials said two pools of money are tied to the program, including $19 million for the state’s child support services division and $45 million for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Finance Committee co-chair Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said he didn’t understand or trust everything that was in the 41-page bill, and he wanted more information before signing off on it.
Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said he wanted to help families and ensure that someone responsible for child support payments couldn’t flee the country to avoid paying. But he said he wanted more assurance that participating countries would be fair to all parents and have appropriate legal processes.
“I’m not sure that all the countries on this list can do that,” he said.
Under the treaty, the United States would be one of more than 30 countries that helped one another enforce child-support orders. Other countries that participate in the treaty include Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, Germany and others.
Alaska’s child-support office has about 300 cases where at least one participant has a foreign address, including about 130 noncustodial parents living in a foreign country.