As you know, SD Breastfeeding Coalition and SD Birth Matters have been working together to get a law passed here in SD that will protect breastfeeding mothers. If you want to read more about it, you can read my blog post from a couple weeks ago on the matter.
Several things have happened since I wrote that post, so I wanted to give you an update along with a call to action.
Our Breastfeeding Protection Bill (SB77) passed the Senate Floor 33-0 - this was a huge victory!
Then it was off to the House Health & Human Services (HHS) Committee. There was a lot of great testimony in favor of our bill, and no opposition to it (the retailers and commerce lobby has backed off any opposition). After testimony was done, the members of the committee had an opportunity to discuss it.
And discuss it they did.
Representative Lana Greenfield had some concerns about businesses, and how this bill might negatively affect employers when employees start to bring their babies to work and nurse them whenever and wherever they are, interrupting their jobs and productivity. It was explained that this has nothing to do with workplace nursing, but I'm not sure she got that, as she made another comment about it when placing her vote.
The other interesting comments during committee came from Representative Steve Hickey, who lamented that there wasn't language in the bill saying that nursing needed to be discreet and should only allow for babies under the age of one. He made a motion to add that language to the bill - his amendment didn't get a second, so died.
After all the discussion and testimony, the HHS committee voted and passed the bill 12-0. They then placed it on the Consent Calendar, which basically means that instead of having a discussion on the floor, there will be a vote with the understanding that there's no opposition. Legislators can ask any question of the sponsor, but that's it.
(You can listen to this hearing HERE. Just click on the SDBP "bird" next to 2/10/15 Health & Human Services)
It was set to be voted on the House floor on the Consent Calendar on Wednesday (2/11/15). When it came up, Representative Greenfield pulled it off Consent, which means it was deferred to another day and will now be able to be discussed on the floor, and amendments added if Representatives decide to.
Our understanding at this point is that it will be brought up for vote on the House Floor on Tuesday, 2/17/15.
You may have read in your local paper that the bill passed and is now headed to the Governor's desk to be signed into law. That is NOT true!
So, we need your help!
We need you to CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and tell them you want them to vote yes on SB77 and you DON'T want them to add any amendments! We are one of only 3 states that doesn't have this protection for breastfeeding moms, and the law we are trying to pass is very similar to the rest of the 47 laws in the country. We don't need to legislate modesty (whose definition of modesty would be followed, anyway, and who would enforce it?), and we don't need to tell moms that their 12.5 month old can't be fed where others can see. I think moms are perfectly capable of deciding how old their child is when they decide to wean (because let's face it - if a baby isn't weaned, he or she may want to eat anytime). That is NOT something that legislators should be deciding for us.
Now. All that said, I have NO idea if they will be trying to add an amendment to this bill. I'm totally making assumptions based on the Committee hearing. Maybe there's nothing to worry about, and perhaps Greenfield just wants to discuss something completely different about the bill. I don't know.
What I do know, is that this is your chance to affect breastfeeding rights and protections in our state. All you need to do is send your Representatives a simple email stating: Please vote yes on SB77 as is. We don't want or need any amendments to make it more restrictive.
You can find out who your Representatives are HERE.
You can email your Representatives HERE.
Thanks for your help in getting this protection put in place, and I look forward to being able to share with you that South Dakota has joined the ranks of states who care about protecting breastfeeding moms!