After many failed attempts, Florida legislators have passed legislation that requires lactation spaces in Florida courthouses.
The House unanimously adopted the motion SB 144 Boynton Beach Democratic Senate Lori BermanA lawyer, who carried the measure to approval by a Senate vote of 39-0 on March 15.
This bill will require Florida courts to provide lactation areas for mothers breastfeeding by January 1, 2024. The spaces must be kept clean, secure from the public and free from intrusion.
Courthouses may be exempted from offering such spaces if doing so requires new construction or cannot be done at a “reasonable cost.”
Miami Democratic Rep. Ashley Gantt, a fellow lawyer who sponsored a twin to Berman’s bill (HB 87), cited complaints she heard every year from new mothers about the “horrible experience” they had at court.
This has been a problem for many years. Florida Association for Women Lawyers — which offers lactation space grants — has taken up for years.
SB 114 can be compared to recently passed legislation like this Act on PUMP for Nursing MothersThis provides, among other things, for lactation rooms at both large and small airports and in the workplace.
Gantt said extending those provisions to Florida’s many courthouses through the bill, which will next head to Gov. Ron DeSantis Many benefits come with his signature
“Lactation spaces will provide women (with accommodations) to return to the workforce, and it’s a benefit for all of us across Florida,” she said. “Because we will have skilled people in our workforce who don’t have to choose between work and being a mother.”
Through the committee process this year, numerous advocacy groups backed the proposal, including the National Association for Women, Florida Association of Crime Defense Lawyers, Democratic Women’s Club and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.
Prior to the House vote Friday, several of Gantt’s Democratic colleagues, many of them lawyers themselves, praised Gantt for backing the measure and encouraged her to milk the moment.
Hollywood Rep. Hillary Cassel She recalled having to return to work in law when her son was just 11 months old. It was “scary knowing that I had a job to do (and) clients to represent, but I also had a baby at home that needed to be fed (and) taken care of.”
“This provides not only space for women in the legal community who oftentimes have to find that … work-life balance, (but it also helps) people who have tasks that they need to take care of at the courthouse,” she said. (They) will also know they have a safe space so they can either pump or feed their babies.”
Lawyers and Reps LaVon Bracy Davis And Michele Rayner-Goolsby Joined Reps. Anna Eskamani, Rita Harris And Angie Nixon Similar plaudits were given.
“As a mama that nursed for 11 months, I can tell you things like this are needed, (because) if there’s not a space like that, we often have to go into the bathroom — the restroom — and that’s gross,” said Nixon, a higher education director, to a round of laughter.
Rayner-Goolsby was a former assistant to the public defender and now practices privately. Elect to the House.
“The fact that you were able, with your partner over in the Senate, Sen. Berman, to shepherd it across in both chambers just speaks to what an awesome member you are,” she said.
“This bill has been a long time coming.”
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