CONCORD — House and Senate Democratic leaders announced placement of a dedicated nursing pod in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday.
Once construction is completed, the pod can be used by State House workers, elected officials and visitors, according to a news release issued by Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, and Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook.
The announcement comes just weeks after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed an unrelated executive order to allow workers at state agencies to bring their babies to work. It doesn’t include nursing pods.
The new pod in the LOB is wheelchair accessible and will be accessible using a free app that provides smart security, autonomous access, and control of lighting of airflow for moms with smart phones.’
Additional access for those without smartphones is available with an access code provided by State House staff, according to the release.
It cost $17,527.50 plus shipping of $1,800 and was paid for by joint legislative branch funds.
Soucy and Shurtleff released the following joint statement:
“While the State House has had a designated lactation space for almost a year, this dedicated lactation pod will give our employees, elected officials, and visitors a quiet, private, and sanitary place to express milk in the Legislative Office Building. We’re proud to take this next important step by supporting nursing mothers at the State House complex.”
Last month, Gov. Sununu launched New Hampshire’s “Infants in the Workplace” initiative through an executive order. It empowers executive branch agencies to allow infants between the ages of six weeks and six months into the workplace.
Sununu’s executive order doesn’t include lactation pods at the various state agencies, but does include the following, according to the policy paper:
“Supervisors must allow lactating mothers flexible schedules to breastfeed and/or express milk.
“Parents participating in the program who are breastfeeding their infants will be provided with reasonable time to breastfeed their Infants and with a reasonable accommodation to provide appropriate private space for breastfeeding, consistent with applicable state and federal laws.”
Sununu said at the time: “ The ‘Infants in the Workplace’ is a game-changer, and takes another step with our State of New Hampshire 21st Century workplace initiatives.”
Sununu’s press release Dec. 9 linked the initiative to his proposed voluntary paid family leave program, saying “this initiative can provide working families with options to give their kids the healthiest possible start to life while allowing them to remain in the workforce if they choose to.”
Sununu vetoed the Democrats’ bill creating a family and medical leave program and later announced a voluntary family leave program.
Legislation on both the Democratic and Republican leave proposals will be before the legislature in the upcoming session.