Bill to aid breastfeeding mothers clears hurdle

Local school districts would be required to provide space for nursing mothers to pump breast milk under a bill that won approval Thursday morning in the House Education Committee.

Backers said the rule would address a problem for teachers and other educators unable to find a private spot during the workday.

Mary-Patricia Wray, legislative and political director for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said her group heard from a eight-year teaching veteran who said her need to pump breast milk posed an awkward situation and was difficult to discuss with school administrators.

Wray said the teacher used private time in the classroom when students were out.

“I have been walked in by principals, custodians and other personnel,” Wray recounted the teacher saying in her note to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, which backs the measure.

The proposal is House Bill 635 by state Rep. Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport.

It was handled in committee by state Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge.

The legislation would require that school districts provide “an appropriate, private room, other than a restroom, that may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

Workers would also be given “a reasonable amount of break time” and the policy would apply to mothers for up to one year after the child’s birth.

The bill next faces action on the House floor.