Illinois House approves spending of $635K on three "lactation and wellness" rooms at State Capitol
The Illinois House of Representatives voted 91-1 on April 20 to spend $635,570 to build three "lactation and wellness" rooms at the state capitol in Springfield.
The rooms will be reserved for women who want to breastfeed their children while at the capitol.
The bills' sponsors, State Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville), State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and State Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin (D-Chicago), argued the high taxpayer cost is justified, as the rooms must conform to national lactation room standards set by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“Lactation rooms should provide, at a minimum, a lockable door; a work surface and chair; a small utility-type sink; storage for cleaning supplies and paper towels; adequate HVAC service, including a thermostat; and well-placed electrical outlets," according to the AIA. "Telephone service and network connections for the room are also recommended to increase worker safety and productivity. Accessibility guidelines should be met for all the features of the room."
AIA standards also dictate the coating used for the table work surface ("plastic laminate"), the size of the table ("20 inch deep by 30 inch wide"), the location of power outlets and other "useful accessories" that must be required, including "a trash can, a paper towel dispenser, a coat rack or coat hooks, a full-length mirror, a magazine rack, and a bulletin board."
The Illinois Capital Development Board, which would handle the lactation room construction, estimated the construction cost at $211,856 per room or $847.42 per square foot, provided the room were 250 square feet.
The only "no" vote was State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who suggested the state should pay its $8.4 billion in unpaid bills before considering new projects like this one.
The bill, House Bill 1042, now goes to the Illinois State Senate for approval.
Last month, the Senate passed a resolution to approve the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would render female-only accommodations like a lactation room unconstitutional.