Bill description: SB 1075 would amend Idaho’s statutes regulating the use of assistance devices and service animals for individuals with disabilities.
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?
SB 1075 would specifically state that the benefits and privileges which are granted to service dogs and their handlers do not extend to all species of animals. Under current law, a public place, such as a coffee shop, restaurant, or other private businesses, cannot discriminate against an individual with a service animal by denying them access.
If, through rulemaking or an expanded statutory interpretation, the current law were expanded to include any service animal, private businesses and other places of public accommodation would be forced to allow entry to service animals such as chimpanzees, guide horses, cats, iguanas, pigs, parrots, monkeys, and more. (All of these have been documented as support or service animals.)
If businesses are required to admit any such animal, they could easily lose business from other customers. Other customers might be highly allergic to cats, suffer from herpetophobia (fear of reptiles), or not want to sip coffee while sitting next to a chimpanzee. SB 1075 would protect businesses from being forced to allow other animals in.
SB 1075 would require that all places of public accommodation modify their “policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service dog by an individual with a disability or an authorized handler.”
Under this legislation, the owners of a public place would have limited options. For example, they could only ask a handler to take her dog off-premises under very specific instances, such as if the dog is not housebroken or is out-of-control. SB 1075 does not specify that the public place can actually require the service dog to leave the premises. But if the owner does choose to take the dog off-premises, the facility would have to give the individual with the disability the opportunity to remain on-premises without the service dog.
Additionally, SB 1075 would specify that a public place can only ask two questions of an individual with a service dog: Is the dog a service dog, and what services does the dog provide? However, the owners, operators, or employees of the public place could not ask such questions if it was readily apparent the dog was a service dog. Nor could a public place require documentation that a service dog is actually trained, certified, or licensed.
This would substantially limit private businesses that are open to the public from operating their business as they see fit.
SB 1075 would prohibit places of public accommodation from charging an additional fee or surcharge for service dogs or service-dogs-in-training from entering their premises. This would even apply to places such as hotels and motels, where customers can often bring their dog if they are willing to pay an additional nightly fee to cover increased wear and tear or any additional cleaning that may be necessary. This prohibition could be costly to businesses, particularly in the case of dogs-in-training, which might impose additional maintenance and cleaning costs.
Under current law, individuals who are are not disabled, are not allowed the same authority to train service dogs which disabled individuals are allowed. SB 1075 would give everyone the same authority to train service dogs.
Update: This analysis was updated on March 1 to incorporate the amendments made to the legislation and more accurately reflect the effects of the legislation.