The Workplace Accommodation of Breast Feeding Bill, HB252, which would have afforded nursing mothers accommodations in the workplace, was shot down by members of the Utah House Committee after hearing testimony in support of the bill. The action is being called a “blatant slap in the face of Utah’s working mothers” by bill sponsor Rep. Christine Johnson.
Lawmakers tried to use the rhetoric that private business should not have to be subject to the law, as the Deseret News reported:
Despite supportive testimony from Intermountain Health Care, the University of Utah and Employers Council of Utah, the predominately male House committee expressed concern that HB252 created a mandate on private businesses.
“It’s not appropriate for the state to command us in all things,” said Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork. He said the bill was simply “dictating common sense.”
“This says a lot about the hypocrisy of this Legislature,” she said after the Friday night meeting. “We say we support families and women. The least we can do is support the desire of women to do the best for their families.”
The Salt Lake Democrat, an expectant mother herself, said lawmakers should be “embarrassed.”
Johnson said her proposal did not tell employers what to do, but rather what they should do, and that the negative vote highlighted pro-business bias in the Legislature.
“This body consistently shows favoritism toward businesses and gross inconsideration for anyone other than the majority,” she said.
It appears that the influence of private business owners dictates which populations are to be discriminated against in this year’s session (workers needing health care, gays and lesbians, and now nursing mothers….). If the mindset, then, is that not all legislation should mandate things that would affect private businesses, where is the line drawn? Should this then apply to laws on the hiring practices of illegal immigrants?
(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)