The day-care licensing bill, SB 1112a, has passed the Senate on a strong 30-5 vote. Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, gave an impassioned 40-minute opening debate, in which he said, “It’s not our policy to interfere in family business, but it is our policy to be providing safe businesses that families will use.” Idaho currently requires no criminal background checks, no smoke detectors, no minimum staffing requirements, or anything else for small day-care operators; it licenses only those with 13 or more unrelated children. Idaho ranks last in the nation for its oversight of child care. Corder said Idaho licenses an array of other occupations, from mortgage lenders to grooms for racehorses. “Today we have no less an obligation to protect our children,” he told the Senate.
Only two opponents of the bill spoke up. Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, said, “We’re sending the wrong message here to the parents of the state of Idaho. … I think we’re sending the message, ‘Parents, we’re going to guarantee you a safe place to put your child.’ You know, I think that’s wrong. I think the parents are in charge and I think they should make those inspections. …. The reality is our parents are responsible, and somehow we have raised children for thousands of years without this bill.”
Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, said, “To me, this adds to the list of extremely well-intentioned bills … that add government intrusion in an area where it doesn’t belong.” The other three “no” votes came from Sens. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian; Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls; and Melinda Smyser, R-Parma. All other senators voted in favor; the bill now moves to the House side.