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Child car-seat bill wins support

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, presents legislation to eliminate Idaho's
Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, presents legislation to eliminate Idaho's "nursing exemption" from its child car safety seat law, which disqualifies the state from federal aid to buy car seats for needy families. The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously endorsed the bill on Tuesday. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

The Senate Transportation Committee has voted unanimously in favor of SB 1089, to eliminate Idaho's current exemption from child car-seat requirements when a parent decides to take the baby out for feeding or to change a diaper while on the road. That exception - which only two or three states still have - disqualifies Idaho from receiving between $100,000 and $250,000 in federal highway safety funds each year, enough to buy about 3,000 child car seats each year for needy Idaho families. Montana has gotten $1.7 million in funding under the program in the past 10 years, Mary Hunter of the Idaho Transportation Department told the committee. Because of its law, she said, "Idaho got zero."

Eagle firefighter Rob Shoplock told the committee, "A child becomes a projectile when it's out of a car seat - those children don't have a choice." When first responders come to a car accident scene, Shoplock, a father of two, said, often their biggest dread is that a child is involved. "I hope we have the opportunity to come here and protect the children, pass this law and get the funding we need," he told the senators.

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, is sponsoring the bill for the third time. The first time, it passed both the Senate committee and the full Senate unanimously, but never got a hearing in the House Transportation Committee. Last year, Broadsword brought the bill directly to that committee, where it was introduced but then never scheduled for a hearing. Broadsword said car crashes are the leading cause of death in children, and 45 percent of children injured in car crashes suffer their injuries because  they're unrestrained. She said members of the House Transportation Committee have told her this year that they "really want to see this done," and she's hoping that this year, that panel will grant the bill a hearing.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.