Thursday, December 10, 1998

Child support
woes catch
lawmaker ears

A House panel chairman
wants to form a task force to look
into the problems at the
enforcement agency

Day One: A system gone haywire
Day Two: Chaos, part II?

By Craig Gima


Rep. Dennis Arakaki, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, said he wants to form a legislative task force to look into problems at the Child Support Enforcement Agency.

Info Box "We're concerned about how it affects children and families. That to us is the bottom line," said Arakaki (D, Kalihi Valley).

"We want to respond to some of the issues raised in the Star-Bulletin," he added, refering to a series of stories about the child-support agency that ran over the last two days.

Arakaki said his office has been getting calls from parents complaining about child-support payments and problems with record-keeping. He said he also wants to find out what happens to the interest the state earns on child support payments.

Arakaki said he and Senate Human Services Chairwoman Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Kalihi) want to hold a joint hearing with the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

Besides looking into complaints about late or missing checks, Arakaki wants to examine what is being done to get parents who are not paying child support into the system.

He noted the agency has been given new enforcement powers and he said the hearing would also evaluate how the agency is using its new authority.

House Judiciary Chairman Paul Oshiro (D, Ewa Beach) said his office has also been getting calls from parents complaining about the agency.

"If he (Rep. Arakaki) is talking about holding a hearing, I'd be very much open to that," Oshiro said.

"A hearing would give us a little more insight into what are the true problems," said Senate Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo).

"Is it a question of simply being patient, or whether we can impose some solutions that may have a quicker result?"

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