May 20, 2015 5:23 PM

Landrigan: NH house panel pushes aside breast-feeding mandate bill until 2016

CONCORD - Advocates vow to keep fighting on but can’t hide their disappointment at a House panel shoving aside legislation to require employers make accommodations for newborn mothers to breast-feed in the workplace.

The House Commerce and Small Business Affairs Committee voted, 13-8, to retain the bill even though it unanimously passed the State Senate and had support from a broad coalition of business and human service groups.

Kate Frederick is a leader in the state’s New Hampshire Breastfeeding Coalition and said the panel’s decision was stunning since as working group of the same committee had endorsed it.

"You know we shook hands, we had an agreement, the subcommittee work group and I got schooled pretty hard yesterday to the climate of politics,’’ said Frederick during an interview with NH1 News.

Kary Jencks with New Hampshire Citizen’s Alliance, said supporters will keep the pressure on and hope the House panel later this fall comes around on the measure.

“Despite the fact New Hampshire has the highest rate of working women in the nation and the well-known fact that breast milk provides perfect infant nutrition, we are running behind when it comes to ensuring workplace policies that support new families,’’ Jencks said.

Now is the time for New Hampshire to stand with women and join 14 other states in ensuring breastfeeding mothers are able to feed their children.”

Frederick sued the state Department of Health and Human Services after she complained about the agency’s refusal to allow her to breast-feed her newborn at a nearby day care.

Frederick was fired Sept. 21, 2012. Her suit asks she lawsuit reinstated and receive damages.

The seven-count lawsuit charges the state with violating a provision of Obamacare that requires new months have reasonable accommodations to breast feed their children.


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