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House Bill 683 — Office of early childhood services

House Bill 683 — Office of early childhood services

Parrish Miller
March 1, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 683 would create an Office of Early Childhood Services to expand government services and encourage more people to depend on the state.

Rating: -8

NOTE: House Bill 683 is very similar to House Bill 636, introduced earlier this session. 

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?

House Bill 683 would create an Office of Early Childhood Services that would operate as a new department, with a director appointed by the governor. By establishing a new department, HB 683 significantly expands the scope of government.


Among the duties assigned to this new department would be "oversight" of "child care," "early education," "early childhood special education services," and "early childhood services." None of this is within the proper role of government. These services properly belong in the realm of the free market, churches, and private volunteer organizations. The vast usurpations intended by this bill represent an extraordinary expansion of state power. 

Among the duties assigned to this new department would be "creating a unified eligibility portal that makes it easy for families to enroll in services." This is a truly disturbing expansion of the scope of government — not just to provide services, but to actively work to encourage and make it easier for more people to become dependent on the state.

Among the duties assigned to this new department would be "communicating to the public about the value and availability of early childhood services." Why should government be in the advertising business? Particularly in terms of advertising for more people to become dependent on government programs.


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?

Among the duties assigned to this new department would be "leading statewide efforts to improve early childhood services and strengthen the mixed delivery system." The bill defines the "mixed delivery system" as "a system of early childhood services delivered through a combination of early childhood services providers that is supported with a combination of public and private funds."

Co-mingling the taxpayer-funded public sector and the private sector invariably results in the state co-opting the private sector. The private sector alone should provide the goods and services covered in this bill.


Who should take the lead on developing new and emerging technologies that may play a role in raising the next generation? If you said the free market, you are correct, but that's not what this bill does. Instead, it tasks this new department with "updating and supporting the implementation of the Idaho early learning e-guidelines." The bill defines "early learning e-guidelines" as "a set of learning standards and guidelines maintained by the office that address multiple domains of child development."


Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Examples include the use of tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups, businesses, politicians, or government employees with special favors or perks; transfer payments; and hiring additional government employees. Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth?

The majority of this office's duties involve facilitating and encouraging people to depend on government services that are funded through the redistribution of wealth. As just one example, the bill explicitly says one of the department's duties is "assisting families who wish to obtain early education services."

There is no proper role for government to play in early childhood education (which does not fall under the state constitutional requirement for a "general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools") There is no proper role for government in the provision of child care. The provision and funding of such services properly belongs in the realm of the free market, churches, and private volunteer organizations, not under the control of the state. 


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

Yes. The fiscal note for House Bill 683 calls for "up to $750,000 for the first fiscal year" and for the new department to "come back to the legislature in 2025 for approval" of its spending wishlist. 


Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules? Examples include citing federal code without noting as it is written on a certain date, using state resources to enforce federal law, and refusing to support and uphold the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism?

In addition to all the other problems with this bill, there are several unfortunate provisions tying the state to federal programs (and associated federal funding.) One such provision involves the federal Head Start program, defined by the bill as "services provided by early childhood services providers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 9801 et seq."

There is also a link to the "early childhood advisory council," defined by the bill as "the state advisory council required by the improving head start for school readiness act, 42 U.S.C. 9837b(b)(1)."

The bill also defines "Early childhood special education" as "services provided to children under five (5) years of age pursuant to the federal individuals with disabilities education act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq."


Another significant problem with this bill is the blanket statement that the department should ensure "that the delivery of early childhood services in Idaho complies with all relevant federal laws and regulations." 

Enforcing federal law is not the state's legal responsibility, according to Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997) and other relevant Supreme Court decisions. It is especially troubling that a state department would be given an open-ended obligation to enforce "all relevant federal laws." Such unquestioning acquiescence to the federal government should never be enshrined in Idaho code. 


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