Legislation one of suite of bills to promote women’s health, safety and economic opportunity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2014
JUNEAU – Today, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Representative Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau), and Representative Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) pre-filed legislation to ensure Alaskan mothers have the time and a safe place to breastfeed or express milk while at work. Currently, it is difficult for many Alaskan mothers to find a clean, safe place to express while at work.
“Breastfeeding and expressing milk is time consuming to say the least, and it’s not easy for busy mothers who make the commitment to breastfeeding to balance that commitment with their family, personal and professional responsibilities,” said Tarr, the lead sponsor on the legislation. “Making sure mothers have the time and a safe place to breastfeed or express will go a long way to helping them strike that balance between work and family.”
Numerous scientific studies have shown the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child, and Alaska was one of the first states to recognize these benefits and protect breastfeeding women from public indecency laws.
The bill (HB228) requires that all businesses provide unpaid break time and a private and sanitary place for women to express milk. That space may not be a toilet stall. The bill does not require employers to allow children in the workplace at any time other than break times.
“I worked and breast fed my children, and I know the benefits to my children and the extra work it takes. It’s important working mothers have the time and a safe and clean location to nurse or express milk for their babies” said Rep. Harriet Drummond.
This legislation is part of a suite of bills from Kerttula, Tarr, and Drummond designed to promote women’s health, safety and economic opportunity in Alaska. Other legislation includes bills to expand Denali KidCare, teach children how to prevent child abuse, establish earned sick leave, and re-instate the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women.
The new bills complement existing legislation (HB37) and upcoming budget requests to make child care more available and affordable for Alaskan parents looking to re-enter the workforce, to help child care businesses train and retain quality caregivers, and to ensure hospitals and the crime lab have the tools they need to bring rapists to justice.