The Commission on Child Support proposed House Bill 1032 as its regular, federally expected update of child support guidelines. The commission meets every four years; proponents said the guidelines presented were intended to address changes in the cost of living over the last eight years. HB 1032 also included a useful revision of the definition of full-time employment for primary income which would have spared parents working side jobs some payment obligations (not to mention clarifying that teaching is full-time work).
Yet a bunch of skinflint non-custodial dads led by Rep. Tom Pischke (R-25/Dell Rapids) managed to confuse enough legislators to kill HB 1032 in the House on January 18. In his floor remarks (starting at timestamp 20:20 in SDPB’s video), Rep. Pischke indicted the Commission on Child Support as a bunch of lawyers. He accused commission chair Judge Joni Cutler, a former legislator, of “outspoken bias against shared parenting and non-custodial dads.” He threw a torrent of numbers to justify his basic complaint that HB 1032 would require non-custodial parents to work more and pay more to support their kids.
Rep. Mike Stevens (R-18/Yankton), another of those darned lawyers, pointed out that the child support guidelines allow parents whose income goes down to file a petition to reduce their obligations. But 35 legislators, including both of my District 3 Reps, Drew Dennert and Dan Kaiser, were bamboozled into voting down more support for children. The final floor vote was 31–35.
Keep in mind, this is a Legislature that makes support for children such an absolute that it will pass restrictions on abortion that make women second-class citizens. But asked to update the financial requirements the state imposes on parents of born children to satisfy the obligations they couldn’t bring themselves to support as married, cohabitating parents, a slim majority of House members voted for a handful of angry men who don’t want to provide another $50 a month to support their kids.
Men, man up, and quit your griping. If you can’t make real shared parenting work (it’s called marriage) and put your children’s interests ahead of your own, 50 more dollars a month is a small price to pay for the state’s intervention on behalf of your children.
Legislature, let’s rectify this error. Show you support kids by bringing HB 1032 back. Rep. Dennert, Rep. Kaiser, vote to reconsider HB 1032. If you can’t do that, then let’s find someone to file a new bill this week (Friday is the deadline for new bills!) that follows up on the commission’s recommendation for fixing the problematic definition of full-time employment and provides updated dollar figures to keep children of divorced parents properly fed, clothed and cared for.