Bills requiring baby changing tables in men’s restrooms become more popular
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Pieces of legislation mandating that men's public restrooms include a baby changing station continue to gain support. If all goes according to plan in Wisconsin, the state could soon join others in doing so, reports Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV.
Two state representatives and a state senator — all men — have introduced the bill requiring the changing tables in any newly built or substantially renovated public building.
State Reps. Jonathan Brostoff and David Crowley and state Sen. Chris Larson, all Milwaukee Democrats drafted a measure designed to guarantee gender-equal access to baby changing tables in public buildings with the bill requiring installation in unisex restrooms, as well as both women's and men's restrooms.
Wisconsin is not alone in such proposed legislation. Massachusetts is looking at a bill, too. There, state Sen. Becca Rausch recently asked colleagues to pass a law similar to the one proposed in Wisconsin.
"As a new dad, this legislation hits close to home for me," Brostoff said in a statement. "When I take my son with me outside of the house, I am consistently struck by how few businesses have changing stations available for parents. What's even more notable is that, in a lot of cases, the businesses that do have diaper-changing tables only have them in women's restrooms."
Similar bills have passed in Arizona, Utah, California, Illinois, and New Mexico.
In 2017, California passed a similar bill. In that bill, at least one diaper changing station available to men and women throughout California. That legislation, Assembly Bill 1127, was created by state Majority Leader Ian Calderon, requiring diaper changing stations are installed in men's and women's restrooms in publicly owned state and local buildings and private businesses. It also required that buildings owned by the state; local agencies; and public venues, such as grocery stores and restaurants, have at least one changing table available to both men and women.
The law also applies to new construction and any restroom renovations that exceed $10,000.
In 2016, the federal government took steps when President Barack Obama passed the "Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act," requiring male and female restrooms in public federal buildings to have baby changing tables.
There were two primary goals for passing the federal law: providing sanitary and safe conditions for children who are otherwise changed on countertops, floors, or other locations; and ensuring parity in changing facilities for men and women.
According to language in the federal law, exceptions include non-public restrooms; restrooms with signage directing users to a changing table on the same floor; buildings that require new construction because space is "unfeasible" to install a station; and buildings where alterations are prohibited.
Washington, D.C. is toying with the idea of a similar bill, called the Equal Access to Changing Tables Amendment Act. According to The Washington Post, the proposed legislation ensures that every floor of all publicly accessible city buildings will have diaper-changing accommodations for use by anyone. In the private sector, newly constructed businesses, spaces for public use and any existing businesses undergoing renovations of more than $10,000 would also have to make the change.
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