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House Bill 497 — Yellow Dot Program

House Bill 497 — Yellow Dot Program

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
February 19, 2020

Analysts: Janae Wilkerson and Lindsay Atkinson

Bill description: HB 497 launches a state-run Yellow Dot Program.

Rating: -3

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?

HB 497 directs the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to create and advertise a new program run by the government, the Yellow Dot Program. The program would give participating drivers a folder with a medical information sheet to fill out and store in their vehicle, and a window decal to stick on their car. Emergency responders who arrive on the scene of an emergency or accident look for the yellow decal, search the vehicle's glove box for the corresponding folder, and use the medical information it contains. 


Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt? 

HB 497 states that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare “may accept donations and grants from any source, including eligible federal safety funds” to pay for running this program. The acceptance of federal grants to fund this program uses taxpayer dollars to oversee a program that could easily be run by the private sector.


Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government? Examples include government ownership or control of any providers of goods or services such as the Land Board’s purchase of a self-storage facility, mandatory emissions testing, or pre-kindergarten. Conversely, does it eliminate a function of government or return a function of government to the private sector?

This program could easily be enacted by private sector nonprofits, hospitals, car manufacturers, or other entities. In fact, similar programs from the private sector are already in place. Take an iPhone's nearly identical medical ID function or various alternative applications. They let emergency responders access the phone user’s pre-filled medical history, blood type, emergency contacts, and allergies. Or consider an advance health care directive, which communicates an individual’s preferences for care. The private sector is already fulfilling the goals this public program proposes to address.


Analyst's Note: Our rating of this bill is not affected by amendments made to it on 2/28. However, we do believe that the amendments provide proper limitations on the search of a vehicle with a Yellow Dot sticker by establishing that the existence of such a sticker does not provide probable cause for a peace officer to search the vehicle or its occupants.

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