ANNAPOLIS — A Frederick County delegate would like state employees who are nursing mothers to have a place to pump.
Delegate Carol Krimm (D-District 3A) on Tuesday presented House Bill 306 to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill, following federal law, would require state entities to provide a break time and a private place for employees to express breast milk.
Krimm noted that even the State House did not have a dedicated nursing space.
The purpose of the bill was to codify in Maryland law what is already an existing practice required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, Krimm said. The federal break requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
However, the proposed law differs from the Fair Labor Standards Act in key ways. The federal law applies to nonexempt employees — those entitled to overtime pay — and the state law, if passed, would extend to all employees.
Like the federal law, the state bill requires state entities to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from public view for nursing mothers to pump.
Krimm’s proposal would allow breaks any time the nursing mother needs to pump for one year after her child’s birth.
An analysis from the Department of Legislative Services stated that a nursing mother would typically need to express breast milk two to three times during an eight-hour shift, given that a newborn may need as many as eight to 12 feedings per day.
Not being able to pump could lead to a drop in milk supply or infection, the department noted.
Maryland has laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, according to National Conference of State Legislatures. But if Krimm’s proposal were to become law, the state would join 28 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, that have laws specifically related to breastfeeding in the workplace.
Various organizations submitted statements in support of the measure including the American Academy of Pediatrics, The March of Dimes, Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, the Women’s Law Center and the American College of Nurse-Midwives.