Thursday, March 14, 2013

Business & Industry Committee Public Hearing on HB 1706 & HB 741

With Bellybean in front of the Capitol
after the hearing

On Monday I went to the Capitol to visit with the legislators who are on
the B&I Committee.  I've always loved this grand building.  But on
Monday when I walked into the rotunda, I was overcome with emotion
On past visits I had never connected so viscerally with the
magnitude of what happens within those magnificent walls. 
It is a fitting space for the incredible things that can happen there.

House Bills 1706 and 741 went before the Business and Industry Committee in a public hearing on Tuesday, March 12.  Testimony - almost all for the bills, was given by several people, including myself and some advocates I am grateful to know.  Michelle Hickman is Director of Activism of the Best for Babes Foundation and the woman who created their national nursing in public incident hotline.  Dr. Susan Landers is a Neonatologist for Seton Family of Hospitals, and Past Chair of Texas Breastfeeding Coalition.  Gail Gresham is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at a hospital, and is President of Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.  I was honored to have been invited to speak with these remarkable women.

My amazing husband Adam found the recording of the hearing online and edited it down to just our bills.

Michelle Hickman, Dr. Susan Landers, MD, me & Bellybean, & Gail Gresham, IBCLC
Below are minute marks for each speaker.  Capitalized names are the ones I'm sure of, the others are just my best guesses at names given on the video.

HB 1706
05:00 Catherine Clarkson
15:00 GAIL GRESHAM, IBCLC, Texas Breastfeeding Coalition
18:00 MICHELLE HICKMAN, Director of Activism, Best for Babes Foundation
28:00 *Kathy Barber, National Federation of Independent Business (against the bill))
29:30 reading of those for & against bill
33:40 Johnny, representing firefighters

HB 741
36:52 REP. WALLE
41:00 Stephanie Diaz, TX State Employees Union, supervisor, CPS
43:45 KRISDEE DONMOYER, Central Texas HMHB & Keep Austin Nursing in Public
47:00 Rebecca Graber
1:00:00 Yvonne Porterfield
1:03:30 Johnny Villareal, Houston Professional Firefighters Association, Local 341
1:04:40 Paige Williams, Texas Classroom Teachers Association
1:08:45 **Laura Mueller, Texas Municipal League (on the bill)
1:09:45 reading of those for & against bill
1:12:20 REP. WALLE

The bills will be pending in committee for a week, maybe longer.  If they pass through this committee, the Calendars (Procedural) Committee will determine if they make it on the calendar to be voted on by the House of Representatives, and if they are passed by the House they will go on to the Senate.

This is the text of my testimony for House Bill 741.  Special thanks to Marianne Baker for helping me to edit it down to three minutes.

Good afternoon, representatives, and happy birthday, Chairman Oliveira.  

I’m Krisdee Donmoyer. I’m a stay-at-home mother of three young boys.

I’m also the Outreach coordinator of Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, and a member of the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition.

I blog at Keep Austin Nursing in Public, and over 1,300 people are supporting efforts to convince Austin ISD not to discriminate against breastfeeding mothers.

Through this, I have heard from many mothers who need to express breastmilk for their babies while at work.

One mother, Patty, relayed to me that when she returned to work as an early childhood intervention teacher, she tried to pump for awhile in either a frequently used closet, or the only restroom available for teachers. She eventually gave up pumping, and supplemented with formula. Without pumping for all those hours each day, her milk supply failed.

Another mother, Anna Smith, wrote to me,

“I was a kindergarten teacher in Marlin, TX for 5 years. This past May I had my baby... I... informed... (the principal) that I was a nursing mother and I would need a place to pump and... a short break in the afternoon to pump since my conference period and lunch time were in the morning. He cooperated for the first two weeks of this school year and then one day no one showed up to relieve me for my break. I was in pain! I talked with him... and... he informed me that he could no longer provide relief for me to pump. I told him that I was not going to stop providing breastmilk for my baby and I needed that break in the afternoon or... we would have to discuss my resignation. He... allowed me to resign.”

Patty still regrets that she was unable to continue breastfeeding. Anna is sad that she had to leave her students, and is thankful that her husband’s income covers their monthly expenses.  In both stories, the mothers faced a difficult choice that women should not have to make. Give up breastfeeding, or give up my job?

Anna’s story was just at the beginning of this school year.  Patty’s... was in 1983.

In 30 years, nothing has changed for so many women.

I recently spoke with a school district superintendent who didn’t understand how frequently babies eat or the supply and demand nature of breastfeeding. He essentially said that his teachers are adults, and they can figure out on their own how to make pumping work.

In fact many teachers in that district were left feeling that they could not pump during the school day. Without administration support to help with a short break and a clean place to pump, most teachers can’t manage pumping at school.

And even in a district such as Austin ISD, where they say they’ve been providing rooms for pumping for the last decade, three moms have reported to me that they have nowhere on their campuses to pump this year.

I’ve been a teacher, and I know how complicated it can be to pump at school. But it can be done. Thankfully, many mothers have been supported for a full year of pumping.

Their administration was understanding, their co-workers supportive. The health benefits and reduced absenteeism far outweigh the costs of an added scheduling complication, and the teachers feel very loyal as a result.

In a field dominated by women and where turnover rates are high, supporting a mother so that she does not have to choose between her baby and her job is worth the extra effort.

I ask you to support HB 741 and grant public employees worksite accommodations to support mothers and their breastfeeding babies.

Thank you.
This little ladybug landed on me when
we left the Capitol after the hearing.  I'm not
superstitious, but I do hope she
brought us good luck.


  1. I love what you do and the way you approach advocacy for this important issue. I recently moved from Fort Worth to Lubbock and have a precious 5 month old nursling and nursed my oldest (now 28 months) for 12 1/2 months. I know the struggle of being a breastfeeding Mama in our culture - to NIP or go to the car, to pump if needing/wanting to work, etc., etc. Thank you for your work. Please let me know how I can assist!!

    ~ Elizabeth (Mama to Jacob (2) and Ruth Evelyn (5 months)

    1. Thank you so much!
      I'll try to keep the "Call to Action" tab at the top of the blog updated with ways people can help. I am better at updating Facebook because blog posts take so much time for me, but I'm trying! :)