OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would have made it a little easier for families with young children to visit state buildings will not be heard this legislative session.
In February, House Bill 2017, authored by Rep. Kelly Albright (D-Oklahoma City), unanimously passed through the House Appropriation and Budget Government Subcommittee with an 8-0 vote.
The bill would have required all new, renovated, or replacement state and municipal buildings to include at least one baby changing table.
“This is an accessibility to government issue,” Albright said. “There are already enough bureaucratic barriers between Oklahomans and their government. Oklahoma mothers and fathers shouldn’t be worried about going into a government building because they may have to change a diaper. Unlike many problems our state faces, this is an easy one to solve.”
Rep. Albright says she discovered the issue when she was among the 20,000 teachers that protested during the teacher walkout.
It’s an issue that has affected not just those visiting the Capitol, but even some lawmakers.
Rep. Mickey Dollens tweeted his frustrations after not having a space in the men’s restroom to change his son’s diaper.
“As a new dad, I love being involved in my son’s daily activities & part of that is changing diapers. However, most public men’s restrooms aren’t equipped w/a baby changing station. This includes all but one restroom (1st floor) in the OK State Capitol,” he tweeted.
Dollens says he went to the fifth floor men’s room to change his son’s diaper, but ended up having to change him on his desk in his office.
“My wife snapped this pic in my office after my son and I returned from the 5th floor men’s room after having no luck in finding a clean space to change his diaper. This is a common occurrence for us.”
Dollens says he learned that each floor of the Capitol will have a baby changing station in all restrooms once the construction project is complete.
“If we want people to participate in government, we need to have a government that welcomes their participation,” Albright said. “Every lawmaker in Oklahoma claims to be pro-family. If this is true, why aren’t our government buildings?”
The bill failed to make it out of committee this week, meaning it is effectively stalled for the 2019 Legislative Session.
The issue of changing tables has come up in cities across the country within the last couple of years.
In October, the Norman City Council was considering an ordinance that would require changing tables in both women’s and men’s restrooms, or a family restroom, for any new construction or any business renovating at least half their existing bathroom space.