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Eye On Boise

New group sets legislative agenda

More than 100 people packed the Gold Room of the state Capitol on Wednesday to discuss legislative issues affecting Idaho children, from day-care regulation to social services to early childhood education. By the end of the day, after in-depth discussions, the new group, Idaho Voices for Children, had adopted a legislative agenda focusing on restoring and expanding community resource workers in Idaho schools; expanding child-care licensing; removing an asset test from eligibility standards for the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and expanding early childhood education.

A bipartisan group of legislators addressed the group, along with business leaders and others. Among them was Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, who described the day-care licensing legislation he’s sponsoring on behalf of the Child Care Summit group. He noted that a recent Idaho poll asked people how important they thought it was to require criminal background checks for all workers who are around children in day-cares, a key provision of his bill. “Ninety-nine point five percent said essential, very important or important,” Sayler said, adding amid laughter, “I don’t know what the other half percent was thinking. It’s very overwhelming. Yet the current statute exempts facilities from those requirements if they are caring for six children or fewer.”

Sayler sponsored a day-care bill last year, but it died by one vote in the House Health & Welfare Committee. This year, he said. “I think we have a fairly good chance if we can get it out of committee.” Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, has agreed to be the Senate sponsor, he said.

Also addressing the group were Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston; Rep. Margaret Henbest, D-Boise; Rep. Kathie Garrett, R-Boise; Sen. Mike Burkett, D-Boise; Doug Fagerness, head of North Idaho College Head Start and vice president of Idaho Voices for Children; legislative budget director Jeff Youtz; and Larry Koomler, representing the Idaho Business Coalition for Excellence in Education, a group of CEOs and business leaders from around the state that’s pushing for improvements in education.

Eye On Boise

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