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Update on Colorado Breastfeeding Bill

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

In a new bill that's working it's way through state legislature, Colorado moms would be guaranteed two breaks a day during which they could breastfeed or express milk for their children.

Senate Bill 167 made its way through the State Affairs Committee of the Colorado State Senate yesterday afternoon, setting it up for a full vote. Apart from guaranteeing time to pump, the bill also requires businesses to set aside a location other than a toilet staff for mothers to express their milk.

The primary text of the bill reads as follows:

Requires employers to allow a nursing mother at least 2 separate 20-minute breaks each day, in addition to a meal break, to breastfeed or express breast milk for her child. Requires the break time to be paid only if the employer already provides its employees comparable paid break time. Also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide nursing mothers a private location in which to breastfeed or express breast milk. Prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee who exercises her rights to break time and a private location to breastfeed or express breast milk.

Channel 9 news has coverage of the Colorado breastfeeding bill's progress.

"Colorado's working moms shouldn't have to choose between their responsibility for their child's health and their responsibility to their household's finances," said Carol Soeth, who testified with her 5-month-old son, Jack, on her lap.

Critics however stated that this would provide an undue burden on Colorado's businesses and that the issue is best left to negotiations between individual employers and their employees.

"Being a Mom and a Grandmother is a very honorable profession. I'm there," said Gail Lindley, who owns the Denver Bookbinding Company, a business which has set up cribs in its workspace for its employees who are working parents. "But, I don't think small businesses should be mandated to provide this. It's a wonderful thing to do, but some times, it's not the practical thing to do."

Colorado's business lobbying community testified against the measure. The Colorado Association for Commerce and Industry (CACI), which represents many of the state's largest business, believes the measure takes the wrong approach to solve a non-existent program.

To note, Colorado already has laws on the books that protect the rights of a mother to breastfeed her child in public, making them one of 31 states that do so. The new bill focuses only on the rights of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.

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