226 vote

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After hours of debate, the House has narrowly killed HB 226, to accept a $5.98 million early-learning grant to the state Board of Education, but will reconsider the vote, which came out 34-36. Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City, noted that he was on the prevailing side and served notice of reconsideration, which means the House will take it back up; the House then recessed until 3 p.m. (UPDATE: The reconsideration vote later failed.)

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, debated strenuously and at length against the bill, warning that it was a sign of intrusion into families. Other opponents included Rep. Charlie Shepherd, R-Riggins, who told the House, “I don’t think anybody does a better job than mothers in the home, and any bill that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let others raise their child, I don’t think that’s a good direction for us to be going. … We are really hurting the family unit in the process.”

Backers argued ardently for the bill, noting that local collaboratives around the state, including private child-care providers, parents and more, would be the ones using the grant. “This is ultimately left up to our Idaho communities,” Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, “It’s about helping children and helping families. … This is all about giving parents choice,” and ensuring children are prepared for kindergarten. He noted that the grant was backed by Idaho’s two GOP U.S. senators and authorized by President Trump.

Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, told the House, “The goal in the long run is to … take our children from birth and be able to start indoctrinating them.”

The grant program is strongly supported by major Idaho businesses and the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry. Post Register reporter Sally Krutzig covered the debate and has a full report online here (subscription required), or pick up Wednesday's print edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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