BOISE – Idaho lawmakers narrowly rejected a bill that would have afforded legal protection to people who break into hot cars to rescue dogs.
However, a similar bill regarding children or other people rescued from hot cars passed easily.
Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, led the state Senate 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.”
The bills were pushed by Sen. Mark Nye.
While Foreman’s arguments carried the day against the dogs-in-cars bill 17 for to 18 against, several senators spoke out in favor of the kids-in-cars bill. The bill regarding people in hot cars contains an emergency clause, making it effective as soon as its signed into law.
“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.’”
Nye, D-Pocatello, said, “Maybe we’ll save a life.”
The kids-in-cars immunity bill still needs House passage and the governor’s signature to become law.