The Oregon Small Business Council offered its support today for Senator Jeff Merkley’s provision of the HELP Committee health care bill to require employers to allow reasonable break times for nursing mothers to express breast milk in the first year of an infant’s life.

This existing Oregon law has worked quite well and will be an excellent addition to the final health care reform bill. It is important that it be included in the final Senate bill to support working families across the nation.

Here is the official text of OSBC’s letter to Senator Merkley:

October 30, 2009

The Honorable Jeff Merkley

United States Senate

107 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Merkley:

I am writing on behalf of the more than 400 small business owners that comprise the Oregon Small Business Council to thank you for your tremendous leadership in working to overhaul our nation’s broken health care system. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, you were a tireless advocate for small businesses, Oregonians and all Americans.

We would particularly like to praise your leadership in bringing an existing Oregon law to the national stage to help working mothers take time to express breast milk for infants in the first year of life. This provision will establish a terrific opportunity for working mothers around the country to build healthier children and better workplaces.

The law is working well in Oregon and we believe it will be just as successful across the nation, as employers offer small amounts of time to allow mothers to provide for the wellbeing of their children. As you know, low breastfeeding rates have been linked to an increase in infant mortality rates and a variety of illnesses later in life. Balancing the needs of a career with the importance of motherhood is difficult, and this provision will ease that burden significantly for working families across the nation.

Again, we truly appreciate your commitment to small business owners, working families and all Oregonians. We support your provision to allow break time for nursing mothers and look forward to working with you as we continue to move toward a health care system that works for small businesses and all Americans.