Priola Bill May Be a Prayer Answered for Churches

DENVER – Churches in Colorado that provide less than 3 hours of child care for parishioners daily aren’t currently required to jump through the licensing hoops that full-time daycare services are, but that reasonable regulatory exemption doesn’t take the circumstances of all churches into account, according to Colorado State Senator Kevin Priola (R-Henderson), leaving a number of churches in a state in daycare limbo.

Priola’s solution is simple: extend the current exemption from 3 hours to 6 for the benefit of churches that hold multiple services or host related activities that extend beyond the current 3 hour limit. His bill making such a change, Senate Bill-201, passed the Colorado Senate today on an 18-16 vote, with all Republicans voting “yes” and 15 Democrats and 1 Independent voting “no.”

“I know that modern churches have services that run back to back as well as wrap around services, and I heard from a house of worship in my district that found the current time limits restrictive and that they and others they knew where violating the law on days when they have multiple services and other activities going on,” Priola said, in explaining why he authored the bill. “Putting a 3 hour time limit on the in-house daycare services private churches can provide to members seems totally arbitrary to me, since some might argue that the state has no business licensing such voluntary activities to begin with. But I believe a 3-hour extension on the exemption seems like a reasonable accommodation to make for the churches that need it."

The “no” voters declined to debate the measure, so the reason for their objections was never explained. But it’s fair to assume, given the love most Democrats have for regulation, that opponents just don’t trust church-goers to care for their children for more than 3 hours at a stretch, without getting the government’s permission in the form of a state-issued daycare license.

Senate Republicans have been taking a stand this session against the over-imposition of costly, arbitrary unnecessary and onerous licensing and permitting requirements imposed by the state.

The arbitrary three hour daycare licensing exemption for churches falls into that category. Priola’s bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled House for debate.

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