Government & Politics

Kansas lawmakers can breastfeed their babies on House floor, new rules say

The Kansas House rules will now effectively allow female lawmakers to breastfeed on the floor, a change that supporters said projects a “pro-family” atmosphere.

Lawmakers approved the breastfeeding provision on Tuesday as part of an overall package of rules for the chamber.

“I think the rules should reflect and be updated to the makeup of the House,” said Rep. Ponka-We Victors, a Wichita Democrat who offered the rule change.

Lawmakers adopted the breastfeeding rule on a voice vote. A few no’s could be heard. The overall rules package, which included the breastfeeding provision, also passed on a voice vote.

The U.S. Senate changed its rules in 2018 to allow senators to bring children under one year old onto the floor and breastfeed them. Victors invoked that change in proposing the Kansas House rule, which technically allows breastfeeding children to be brought onto the House floor.

Rep. Susan Humphries, a Wichita Republican, said the ability of female lawmakers to breastfeed on the floor hadn’t been an issue in the past. Previously, the House rules didn’t take a stance on the issue.

“I’m just questioning if we need a rule specifically to say it’s OK,” Humphries said.

Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Democrat, said it may or may not be necessary to add a breastfeeding provision to the rules. But from an optics standpoint, “and appearing to be a family-friendly Legislature, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to make a positive and pro-family statement” regarding how the House operates.

Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.