Hours before recessing for the November elections, the Senate last night adopted by voice vote the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (HR 4980). The bill contains child support provisions long-sought by NCSEA, including the implementing language for the Hague Treaty which would standardize and streamline the process of obtaining and enforcing child support orders across international boundaries. The measure also gives tribes direct access to the Federal Parent Locator Service. Adopted by voice vote by the House in July, the bill also directs the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to work with stakeholders to identify efficiencies and best practices to inform the development of the strategic plan. The OCSE report is due to Congress in less than a year (June 30, 2015). The House also inserted at the end of the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations a provision mandating that all states by October 1, 2015 have electronic income withholding. That provision has been supported by the Administration and the federal savings from it were used to pay for some modest costs in the overall legislation. NCSEA expressed concerns about the section, including the short time frame for implementation and urged OCSE to work expeditiously with the 19 states without electronic withholding. The legislation now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
Notably, HR 4980 did not contain a provision giving tribes access to the federal tax refund offset, nor did it permanently resolve the assertion by some state courts that there are inconsistencies between Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA) and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). NCSEA is prepared to work with Congress to enact these provisions as well.