It's been just shy of a year since our last call to action. The pace of the those last days was exhausting, and despite best intentions to do so, with no further actions to call anyone to, this blog was never updated.
So what happened to those bills?
They died an excruciating death. Well, excruciating for those of us who put so much work into supporting them. Excruciating for the mothers who have since lacked support to pump at work, or who have been harassed for nursing in public. Mothers who may not have met their breastfeeding goals as a result.
HB 1706, having spent too much time cooped up in the Calendars Committee, was finally set for the calendar, but was not heard by the deadline and never faced a vote in the House.
HB 741 passed in the House, but by the time it was assigned by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, that committee had already determined that they would not hear any more bills. You can see how your Representative voted in the House here.
This winter, both pieces of legislation will be re-filed, which will give them new numbers. Texas Breastfeeding Coalition also seeks to promote access to lactation support from IBCLCs, which will mean a third piece of breastfeeding legislation.
It will be vital to have legislators contacted by their constituents over the next year.
Below are ways that you can support breastfeeding legislation. As a stopgap measure while the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition website is being overhauled, you will be subscribing initially to a mailing list maintained by the local breastfeeding coalition in Austin. Being located in the Capitol, this local coalition is heavily involved in lobbying for the whole state of Texas. Your email address will then be transferred to TXBC's mailing list for legislative action alerts once the website has been updated. Keep reading beyond the form below - there are several ways you can help at various commitment levels.
Contact your legislatorsYou can look up your state legislators here.
Tell them that breastfeeding is an important public health issue that you want them to support. Ask them to support legislation in the next session. (Remember to be polite.)
A visit sends the strongest message, followed by a phone call (you'll likely talk to a young staffer). Emails and even tweets can also be a good contact.
If you have had negative experiences, you might share these. Or you could bring up some of the issues that have made the news in the past year (and call when the next one happens). It is also worth mentioning positive experiences, demonstrating that business owners can rather easily support pumping at work, or can benefit from supporting mothers who need to nurture their babies while they are frequenting their businesses.
If you are conservative, mention this. Breastfeeding is a bi-partisan issue, and we need all of our conservative legislators to realize this, and to prioritize individual liberty and traditional values over limited government and free enterprise.
Join the Facebook groupJoin We Support Texas Breastfeeding Laws with Enforcement here. When you are approved to join, select "All Posts" under "Notifications" so that you don't miss anything there.
Join Texas Breastfeeding CoalitionYour membership keeps you connected to what is going on in breastfeeding advocacy, and it helps to strengthen the coalition, for $10 a year. You can join here.
Thank your RepresentativeIf your Representative voted for HB 741, express your gratitude. If he or she voted against it, you might politely inquire as to why (and if you respond to the answer, maintaining diplomacy is vital).
CampaignIf you are moved to do so, you could help out in a House or Senate campaign that interests you. This is not likely to be forgotten, and if your candidate is elected it may give you a stronger voice when you ask for support of our bills.
Support USBC EffortsBreastfeeding legislation on a federal level can support even more mothers. Go to the United States Breastfeeding Committee's website to learn how to extend pump-at-work rights not just to Texas public employees, but to all currently-exempt mothers with the Supporting Working Moms Act.
Have questions? You can contact the Legislative Chair of the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition at TXBFLeg@gmail.com.