Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Urgent Legislative Action Alert for Texas Breastfeeding Bills

An urgent call to action from Texas Breastfeeding Coalition:

This is a really important time to kick our support into high gear, with one bill about to be voted on in the House, another pending for over a month in committee, and a third about to have a hearing on Thursday.
The most effective way to support our breastfeeding bills right now is to contact legislators.  Prioritize your State Senator and State Representative.  You can find them here with your home address.  Beyond that, you can contact Lieutenant Governor Patrick, the Business and Industry Committee, the Senate Committee on Education, – and really, all of the Senators.  Contact information and sample scripts are below. (You can do more if you’re able using the list here and at the Facebook group We Support Texas Breastfeeding Laws with Enforcement.)
The contact that takes the most effort makes the strongest impression (in order, visiting your legislators in Austin, visiting them in district, callingemailing or tweeting); do whatever works for you.
Always be sure to inform them that you are a constituent when this is the case.  If you are conservative and contacting a conservative, this is worth mentioning.
ALWAYS – always, always, always – be polite.
Currently, this is where our bills are:
HB 786 will be voted on in the House on Thursday, April 23rd.
HB 232 will hopefully be voted out of the Business and Industry Committee this week.
SB 1479 will be heard by the Senate Education Committee Thursday, April 23rd.
Our other bills are not yet scheduled for hearings.

Phone Calls:

If you’re calling, you won’t likely have to say much at all or know details about the bills.  But to give you a brief idea (or click the bill number for more info) just in case you want it:
HB 786 gives public salaried employees time and a place to pump milk at work.
HB 232 strengthens the right to breastfeed so the current law can truly protect moms.
HB 1898/SB 26 requires state agencies to become Mother-Friendly Worksites.
HB 3976 licenses International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.
SB 1479 requires time and a place to pump for teachers.
HB 1281 requires accommodations and prohibits discrimination over pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (including lactation).
Sample script for phone call to your own representative or senator (phone numbers are here):Hello, I’m calling as REPRESENTATIVE/SENATOR NAME’s constituent.  I am asking for support for some public health bills.  (Whomever answers may transfer you but will likely just write down the bills.)  Breastfeeding is an important issue to me, and mothers need support to meet their personal goals, in the interest of public health.  When they come before HIM/HER, I’m asking for support from REP./SENATOR NAME for the bills supported by Texas Breastfeeding Coalition.  Those include HB 786, HB 232, HB 1898, HB 3976, SB 26, and SB 1479.  All of these bills will help remove barriers for breastfeeding mothers and babies.
Sample script for phone call to Lt. Gov. Patrick (phone number is 512-463-0001):
Hello, I’m calling to ask that the lieutenant governor refer HB 786 to a committee as soon as the House passes it on Thursday, to ensure it has enough time to be voted upon in the Senate.
Sample script for phone call to Business and Industry members (B&I phone numbers here):
Hello, I’m calling to ask for support for some public health bills.  (Whomever answers may transfer you but will likely just write down the bills.)  I want to thank Representative (FILL IN NAME) for HIS/HER support of HB 786, and ask that HE/SHE please pass HB 232 out of committee.  And when HB 1898 and HB 3976 come before HIM/HER, I am asking for support of those as well.  All of these bills are important for breastfeeding mothers and babies.
Sample script for phone call to members of Senate Committee on Education (Education phone numbers here):
Hello, I’m calling about a bill scheduled for public hearing on Thursday, SB 1479, to ask for the Senator’s support.

Emails:

There are several sample emails with guidelines here.  It’s better to personalize your email as much as possible, using the samples just as a guide.  That said, it’s more helpful to copy, paste and edit than to send nothing at all.
In addition to the general requests for support in the sample letters:
  • Ask any House Representatives to vote for HB 786 on Thursday.
  • Ask Business and Industry Committee members (addresses here) to vote for HB 232 in committee.
  • Ask members of the Senate Committee on Education (addresses here) to vote for SB 1479 on Thursday.

Twitter:

On social media (any channel) use the hashtags #TXBFLeg and #TXLege.
If there is a note in the Twitter column that says fb, then that representative has a Facebook page.  Posts there can be modeled on phone scripts or even emails.
Tweets must be short.  Here are some samples:
@Your Representatives and Senators (handles here):
@XXXXXX Please support bills that help #breastfeeding mothers. Vote for #HB786 & others at  #TXBFLeg #TXLege
@the Lieutenant Governor:
 Please refer #HB786 to a committee as soon as it passes House Thurs.#Breastfeeding mothers need your support.  
@Business and Industry members (handles here):
@XXXXXX Thank you for support of #HB786. Please pass #HB232 ASAP. #Breastfeeding rights should be protected. #TXBFLeg #TXLege
@Senate Committee on Education members (handles here):
@XXXXXX Please pass #SB1479 to support #breastfeeding teachers. #TXBFLeg #TXLege

Visiting:

While visiting makes the strongest impression, if you cannot visit today, please call, email, and/or tweet.  Whether you go to the Capitol in Austin or visit your Representative and Senator in district, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing him or her (versus an aide) if you call ahead to make an appointment.  If you visit at the Capitol you can contact our Legislative Chair at TXBFLeg@gmail.com and she can help arrange additional visits if your time permits.  It can be nice to bring along something as a small token of thanks, such as baked goods or a drawing from your child(ren), but this is not absolutely necessary.  Read our tips for visiting here.  Many of these are also useful for other forms of contact.
Thank you for your support of child and maternal health, family values, and a mother’s right to decide how to feed her baby.

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