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Oklahoma lawmakers spike sensible child-support bill

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: May 25, 2012

Occasionally, legislative votes are real head-scratchers. Opposition to a child support measure certainly falls into that category.

House Joint Resolution 1113, by state Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, would have approved Department of Human Services rules allowing the agency to recoup part of the cost of collecting delinquent child support payments by assessing a fee on those who fail to make payments. The fee was a whopping $25 for the delinquent parent to cover processing costs involved in collection efforts. The rules would have allowed the agency to also collect back child support payments from a parent's income tax refund.

Basically, deadbeat dads (or moms) would have been forced to pay a fee and lose tax refund money when they fail to do financially right by their children. That seems like common sense to us. Yet the measure failed 47-46, needing 51 votes to pass.

Currently, Nelson noted, taxpayers are covering the cost of fees required for collection efforts; the proposed rules would have placed that burden back on those creating the expense in the first place. Critics called it a backdoor effort to fund DHS through fee increases and said it was unfair to add to the burden of those who struggle to pay child support.

We don't see how the fee is so egregious. Some may honestly struggle to make payments, but too often delinquent child support is just a form of child neglect.

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, actually suggested the fee should be assessed on the child or the custodial parent, since they and not the deadbeat parent get the benefit of collecting the delinquent child support payment. We wish that were a joke.

Unfortunately, dozens of lawmakers sided with the deadbeats and against the children needing financial support. We wish that were a joke, too.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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