Two and a half hours into the House Health & Welfare Committee’s meeting today, the panel finally took up HB 163, Rep. George Sayler’s bill to impose at least minimal health and safety regulations and criminal background checks on all Idaho day-care providers who care for at least two or more unrelated kids for pay. Sayler, after meeting repeatedly with committee members who opposed the bill on philosophical grounds, offered amendments he had worked out with them – to exempt from regulation anyone who cares for five or fewer unrelated children.
But committee members said they were confused by the amendments and had trouble following which changes went where in the bill, in part because Sayler had printed a copy of the bill off the Internet, so it showed slightly different page numbers than the version lawmakers had in front of them. The committee decided to put the bill off until next week. Cathy Kowalski, who had traveled from Coeur d’Alene to testify in favor of the bill, told the panel she’d come back – because it’s that important.
Sayler called the experience “very frustrating,” but said he remains optimistic that some changes to make Idaho day-cares safer will pass this year. “They say politics is the art of the possible,” he said.
Kowalski said, “I think what’s appropriate would be for parents to continue to reach out to their legislators and to the committee to let them know that this is a very, very important issue for them.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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