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Senate kills dogs-in-cars rescue bill, passes kids-in-cars version

Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, debates a bill in the Idaho Senate (The Spokesman-Review/File / Betsy Z. Russell)
Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, debates a bill in the Idaho Senate (The Spokesman-Review/File / Betsy Z. Russell)

Twice-amended legislation from Sen. Mark Nye to provide legal immunity to people who break into hot cars to rescue dogs has died on a 17-18 vote in the Senate, while his bill to protect those who break into hot cars to rescue kids or other people passed, 34-1. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

In both cases, Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, led the opposition to the bills. Foreman, a former police officer, said people shouldn’t break into cars – they should just call 911. “The system we have works,” he said. “Call 911 and let a trained professional come out.”

He added, “This could be a crime scene. … I’m concerned that this bill will prompt people to act in haste rather than wait for a trained professional.”

While Foreman’s arguments carried the day against the dogs-in-cars bill, SB 1244aa – which also would have applied to cats or other pets – several senators spoke out in favor of the kids-in-cars bill, SB 1245aa. Both bills contain emergency clauses, making them effective as soon as they’re signed into law; both also apply to all situations in which the rescuer believes the pet or person to be in “imminent danger of suffering death or serious bodily harm,” not just hot cars.

“We’re talking about a situation that has killed several hundred children,” said Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise.

Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said, “In my rural area, I had to call 911 when my husband was having a heart attack, and we had to wait 25 excruciating minutes while he was in the throes of a heart attack. … Sometimes it’s just not physically possible to get there in time to prevent a death or prevent further injury. … And I personally, as a human being, cannot see a suffering human – especially a little one strapped in a car seat – I can’t do that, and I’ll be voting yes.”

Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, said, “With all due respect to law enforcement and our safety officers, time is critical.” He added, “I don’t think this is going to open any kind of floodgates of people going, ‘Ha, ha, I get to smash a window.’”

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, said, “I would always err on the side of caution. … I am grateful for this bill and I will support it.”

Nye, D-Pocatello, said, “Maybe we’ll save a life.” The kids-in-cars immunity bill, SB 1245aa, now moves to the House side.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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