A bill that would ban minors from using tanning beds is headed back to committee when lawmakers voted, after some tense debate Thursday, to send it there for more deliberation.
Legislators voted 42-26 to send it back to the House Health and Welfare Committee, the panel that passed it a week ago.
The move came after Idaho Freedom Foundation director Wayne Hoffman emailed lawmakers a link to a story revealing that dermatologists actually send 900,000 patients annually into tanning beds for treatments. Hoffman also contended in the message the dermatologists will likely benefit financially from the ban, which contains a medical exemption, a charge that will be fleshed out in committee.
House Health and Welfare Committee Chairwoman Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, told the House floor that the allegation needs to be explored. “I will give this a fair hearing, as I always do,” McGeachin said.
The bill would ban youth under 18 from tanning, though they could do so with a prescription from a doctor. There is no exemption for parental consent within the legislation.
Anyone found breaking the proposed law would face a fine and a second offense could mean a misdemeanor.
Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, a retired physician, said the legislation would prevent skin cancer and protect youth. “This is good medicine,” Rusche said. “This is a good bill.”
Had the bill not been sent back to committee, it looked like a possible defeat might have come Thursday. A group of legislators said parents, not the government, should decide if kids can tan.
Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, was among those pushing for parental rights. “To me, this is one of those things the state of Idaho shouldn’t regulate,” Nielsen said. “If it feels good for you and you’re fine with it, do it.”
Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, argued that because the bill would also regulate in-home tanning beds, it goes too far. “We all want to protect children, but this really goes too far,” Simpson argued. “I appreciate what this legislation is trying to do, but it’s just a great overreach.”
Rusche acknowledge the ban would apply to in-home tanning beds, but suggested the law might not be evenly applied. “How would it be enforced … that’s another question,” he said of in-home beds.
Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Star, sided with Nielsen, arguing that parents must choose tanning or not for their kids. “The ultimate decision ultimately relies on the parents,” he said. “Because in Idaho, parents still matter.”
Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, warned not all kids have responsible and informed parents. “Do we want to help those kids whose parents are not being responsible?” Killen asked.
The legislation will likely receive another committee hearing next week.
Note: The Idaho Freedom Foundation publishes IdahoReporter.com.