• The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act (H.R. 866)

    The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act (H.R. 866), introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), has passed the House by voice vote. The bill would require that certain public buildings that are open to the public and contain a public restroom provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is hygienic and is available for use by members of the public to express milk. The lactation room must be shielded from public view, be free from intrusion, and contain a chair, a working surface, and (if the building is supplied with electricity) an electrical outlet. Although there is not yet a Senate sponsor of the bill, the House version has been received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

    FAMILY Act Introduced in House and Senate (S. 463/H.R.1185)

    U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have reintroduced the FAMILY Act Introduced in House and Senate (S. 463/H.R. 1185). The FAMILY Act would ensure that workers can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a pregnancy, the birth or adoption of a child, to recover from a serious illness, or to care for a seriously ill family member. The House bill was introduced with 163 original cosponsors and the Senate bill was introduced with 34 original cosponsors.

    Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA) H.R. 3255

    Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom place for most hourly wage-earning (nonexempt) workers to express breast milk at work. Although it was intended to cover all employees, its placement within existing statute means that it does not cover millions of salaried executive, administrative, and professional employees, including teachers. While it provides protection and support for the most vulnerable workers, this distinction in the law was unintentional, causes confusion, and could be addressed with a simple amendment.

    Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) have introduced the Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA) to ensure a fair and uniform national policy by extending the existing federal provision to cover salaried employees, including elementary and secondary school teachers. The HHS Office on Women’s Health hosts Supporting Nursing Moms at Work, a comprehensive online resource providing businesses with cost-effective tips and simple solutions for all industries. Twenty-eight U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia also have state legislation to support breastfeeding in the workplace. At this time Maryland does not have a similar state law.

    Click here to contact your representatives to ask them to support this bill.

    Friendly Airports for Mothers Act (FAM)

    On Friday, October 5, 2018, the President signed the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which included language that requires airports to provide lactation rooms that are accessible to the public. You can read more here:

    Parental Paid Leave for State Employees

    Governor Hogan signed a Paid Parental Leave bill for Maryland State Employees which became effective October 1, 2018. You can read more about this new benefit here:

    State Personnel – Rights and Protections for Nursing Mothers

    Effective 4/24/18 the act requires the State to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child and to provide a place that may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

    Click here for more information.

    Affordable Care Act Coverage of Breast Pumps

    Effective 8/1/12 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands health plan coverage to include breastfeeding support and supplies. Breast pump coverage will vary among insurance plans, so check with your insurance policy handbook or call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card to find out the details of your benefits. Before calling, talk with a Lactation Consultant about which pump is best for your situation, especially if your baby is in the NICU or you plan on returning to work and will need to pump on a regular basis to build up or maintain your milk supply.

    Click here for more information .

    Maryland Law: Health – General § 20-801

    A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be. A person may not restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child.http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/wic/docs/YouHaveTheRightToBreastfeed.pdf

    If you experience a situation in which your right to breastfeed is challenged, you can report noncompliance with the Maryland law to the Maryland Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division

    Maryland Code: Tax General: Title 11. Sales and use tax: Subtitle 2. Exemptions: 11-211

    Maryland was the first state to provide an exemption from sales tax for breastfeeding accessories that may be used by breastfeeding mothers. Exempt items include breast pumps, breast pump hook-up kits, breast shells, nursing shields, Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), feeding tubes, breast milk storage bags, finger feeders, and purified lanolin.

    The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

    On January 20, 2011, Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin released The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.

    Federal Law: Health Care Reform § 4207

    An employer shall provide a reasonable break time [unpaid] for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth, and a place, other than a bathroom, which may be used by an employee to express breast milkWorkplace Support in Health Care Reform

    Additional Resources