Michigan Representative Rebekah Warren has introduced a new breastfeeding bill, House Bill 5515. HB 5515 would allow a woman to breastfeed anywhere she may otherwise legally be. The law would amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to state in part:
Sec. 302. Except where permitted by law, a person shall not: (a) Deny the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation or public service to an individual because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, or marital status or to a woman because she is breastfeeding a child.
To have breastfeeding viewed as a civil right is a wonderful and powerful thing and I hope all Michiganders will speak out in support of the bill!
How Michigan Mothers Can HelpThere are two ways Michigan mothers and lactation professionals can help see this bill passed into law. HB 5515 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Anyone who supports this legislation should write to all the committee members and to his or her own Representative and state that they support HB 5515. The committee is chaired by Rep. Mark S. Meadows. Here is a list of all the members and their email addresses:
Mark S. Meadows (D), Committee Chair, 69th District (email@example.com)
Ellen Cogen Lipton (D), Majority Vice-Chair, 27th District (EllenLipton@house.mi.gov)
Lisa Brown (D), 39th District (LisaBrown@house.mi.gov)
Bob Constan (D), 16th District; (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Marc R. Corriveau (D), 20th District ( email@example.com)
Andy Coulouris (D), 95th District (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andrew J. Kandrevas (D), 13th District (email@example.com)
Bettie Cook Scott (D), 3rd District (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rebekah Warren (D), 53rd District (email@example.com)
Tonya Schuitmaker (R), Minority Vice-Chair, 80th District (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Justin Amash (R), 72nd District (email@example.com)
Joseph Haveman (R), 90th District (JosephHaveman@house.mi.gov)
Rick Jones (R), 71st District (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eileen Kowall (R), 44th District (EileenKowall@house.mi.gov)
Tory Rocca (R), 30th District (email@example.com)
Malika Abdul-Basir, Committee Clerk 517-373-7256 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A resident may find out who his or her own Representative is at the Find a Representative tool.
The second way to support the bill is to testify before the committee. Michigan breastfeeding mothers are needed to testify on Wednesday, December 2, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. at the meeting of the Judiciary Committee in Room 521 of the House Office Building in Lansing. The House Office Building is at 124 N. Capitol, at the corner of Capitol and Ottawa in downtown Lansing. Anyone may testify, even without advance notice. If someone would like to testify but cannot attend, he or she may mail or email their testimony to Kim Easter in advance of the hearing. Even if someone prefers not to testify, his or her attendance at a hearing and personal correspondence with committee members and his or her own legislators are important in influencing the decision-making process.
Tips for Testifying before the Committee
The purpose of testimony given should be informational so that committee members can vote on the bill with as full an understanding as possible of all sides of the issue it addresses, and the consequences of its passage. A witness should prepare testimony in advance and keep the testimony short and to the point.
When you testify, identify who you are and, if you represent a group, give the name of the group. At the beginning of your remarks, state that you are testifying in support of the bill. Relate your group’s or your own experience or views directly to the issue.
If you are asked a hostile question, keep a cool head. Don’t be afraid to stop and think for a minute to answer a question properly. If you don’t have the answer, never guess—request permission to file a detailed response at a later date.