The Idaho House has rejected a bill that would have restricted the use of tanning facilities by under-age minors. The vote was 43 to 25.
“This bill comes to us from the physicians of Idaho,” said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, as he presented House Bill 268 to his fellow House members. “This bill prevents recreational use of tanning beds unless authentic parental permission is obtained. It is not often that we vote on bills that will directly save lives.”
The legislation would have banned children under age 16 from using tanning beds at commercial salons. It would have also mandated parental consent for 16- and 17-year olds to use the beds.
"The major argument against this bill is that we are taking away our kids rights,” said Rep. Paul Romrell, R- St. Anthony. “We already did this when we restricted a child's ability to get a driver's license, to buy alcohol or tobacco.”
But the prevailing view seemed to be expressed by Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, who told follow representatives that the legislation is an overreach by state government.
“A lot of the data that we saw in our committee (the House Health and Welfare Committee) about this bill was about skin cancer, generally, and not specific to tanning booths,” said Vander Woude. “We also heard testimony that the fines involved here are essentially uncollectable. If a child shows up at school with a tan, would we send that child to the principal and inquire how they get the tan? This doesn’t prohibit tanning at a parents’ home, and it is an overreach by our government.”
“Once again we’re asking small businesses to be our enforcer, and without compensation,” Rep. Terry Gestrin, R-Donnelly, stated during the debate. “It is a parents’ job to handle this, and the state doesn’t need to intervene.”
“This is not about what we are doing to small businesses,” Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, said in rebuttal. “There is a clear public health concern here, and there is clear evidence that, for some, tanning becomes addictive, much like opiates.”
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