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House Bill 549 — New mandates and restrictions on day care facilities

House Bill 549 — New mandates and restrictions on day care facilities

Parrish Miller
February 26, 2020
Parrish Miller
February 26, 2020

Bill description: HB 549 imposes a number of new mandates and restrictions on day care facilities, their operators and their employees. 

Rating: -2

Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?

HB 549 is the third bill printed during this session to regulate day care facilities. While it is nearly identical to HB 520, it adds one crucial word, which we cautiously believe is sufficient to alleviate our concerns about new language about sleeping areas. 

HB 549 requires that day care facilities maintain "infant sleep areas" which "shall consist of a space in which children up to age twelve (12) months may sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib." [Emphasis added.]

HB 520 does not contain the word "may" in this requirement, and we cautioned that its language could force day care providers to violate the wishes of parents regarding how their young children should sleep. For example, some parents may prefer their baby to sleep on its stomach; they might also prefer twins to sleep together. 

We further cautioned that, in addition to the issue of parental rights, there are certain medical conditions (such as upper airway disorders) where stomach sleeping is recommended, yet HB 520 contains no exceptions for such cases. 

As written, HB 549 still imposes a regulatory mandate on day care facilities to maintain infant sleep areas according to the statutory language, but it does not appear to force day care facilities to use these areas in a manner contrary to the wishes of a parent. 


Existing Idaho law requires a "criminal history check" on the "owners, operators, and employees" of a day care and "all other individuals thirteen (13) years of age or older who have unsupervised direct contact with children or are regularly on the premises of a daycare facility." HB 549 expands on this mandate by requiring all such persons to "complete and pass a criminal history and background check in conformance with section 56-1004A, Idaho Code, at least every five (5) years."


Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?

HB 549 adds to the list of crimes for which being found guilty or receiving a withheld judgment is considered grounds for denying or revoking a license to operate a day care. It would add, among other things, "domestic violence, section 18-918(2), Idaho Code" and "a felony drug related offense committed during the preceding five (5) years."

The domestic violence statute referenced here refers to inflecting  "a wound or external or internal injury, whether of a minor or serious nature" upon "any other household member." As there is no time limit on this prohibition, it would appear that someone who got in a fight with a college roommate decades ago would be forever barred from operating a day care in Idaho.

As for any "drug related offense," it should be noted that in Idaho, even possessing a small quantity of a drug for personal consumption is often a felony. 


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