Now that Congress is back from its August recess, you may want to keep an eye out for movement on HR 2236, better known as the Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2007.
Introduced in May by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, the proposed legislation would accomplish the following:
– Amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from discrimination in the workplace, and would include pumping in the definition of lactation
– Give employers with a tax credit of up to $10,000/year if they provide employees with access to qualified breast pumps, lactation consult services, and/or dedicated lactation space.
– Establish performance standards for breast pumps and identify those approved for the workplace credit “based on the efficiency and effectiveness of the pump and on sanitation factors related to communal use.” The Department of Health and Human Services would also produce a guide to the evaluated pumps.
– Create tax breaks for women purchasing qualified breast pumps or lactation consultation services.
Seventeen cosponsors signed onto the bill, with is currently stuck in committee purgatory, having been referred to House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, where it was kicked to a subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.
If you have a representative on one of these committees, you may want to contact him or her to express your opinion on the legislation. It is not yet clear when the committees will consider this legislation, and I was unable to locate a companion bill in the Senate. Look for updates here and contact your senator if you’re interested in making sure a companion bill is introduced, which would be necessary to give the act a chance of becoming law.
One minor quibble: I’d like to see the requirements better detailed for the level of access employers must provide in order to receive the tax credit. For example, an employer of a few thousand employees in multiple buildings might technically qualify with one central lactation room and a single pump, but is that truly the kind of broad access the bill is intended to provide?
Some guidance on the recommended average ratio of eligible women to pumps, or otherwise dealing with access in large workplaces, would be a welcome addition that would strengthen the access of working women to lactation spaces and equipment, and by doing so increase the odds of continued breastfeeding.