Bipartisan bill gives a boost to moms, babies

Pregnant mothers, air ambulance workers, benefit from pair of bills signed into law

Posted 6/6/16

Local legislators, Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) and state Sen. Beth Martinez Huminek (R-Thornton), were joined by city leaders, health care workers, emergency responders and others June 1 at St. Anthony Hospital North Campus, where Gov. John …

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Bipartisan bill gives a boost to moms, babies

Pregnant mothers, air ambulance workers, benefit from pair of bills signed into law

Posted

Local legislators, Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) and state Sen. Beth Martinez Huminek (R-Thornton), were joined by city leaders, health care workers, emergency responders and others June 1 at St. Anthony Hospital North Campus, where Gov. John Hickenlooper was visiting with pen in hand to sign some new laws into place.

Hickenlooper, in front of a considerable crowd inside the main lobby of the just more than 1-year-old North Campus, signed into law two bills: House Bill 16-1438, the Colorado Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and House Bill 16-1280, an update to air ambulance regulations.

Hickenlooper praised Winter, who represents District 35, and Huminek, whose District 24 also includes Northglenn, for their bipartisan efforts in the passing of both bills.

“(You have) two very, very hard-working legislators here who are involved in these cities and made the compromises and do the hard work to get these bills passed,” Hickenlooper said. “We appreciate it.”

Winter and Huminek were both lead sponsors for the Colorado Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which Winter said aims to protect pregnant employees’ health and ability to work.

“This law is designed to ensure that no pregnant woman has to choose between a healthy pregnancy and her paycheck,” Winter said. “When women are pushed out of the workplace because of pregnancy-related conditions, they lose income, economic security and benefits, including health insurance, at the time when they and their children are most in need of wages and benefits.”

The bill intends to ensure pregnant workers are offered reasonable accommodations, including more frequent bathroom breaks, access to a water bottle, seating and, if available, transfer to a lighter duty position.

The law also encourages employees and employers to engage in an interactive process to determine effective and reasonable accommodations that will help an employee maintain a healthy pregnancy and remain employed. It carries important safeguards, including a clarification that employees are not required to accept unwanted and unnecessary accommodations and that employers will not be required to provide any accommodation that would come with significant difficulty or expense.

Winter and Huminek also co-sponsored House Bill 16-1280, which was revises current law requiring air ambulance accreditation in Colorado that is above and beyond even federal standards.

“It’s simple and it’s complicated,” explained David Kearns, a flight nurse and assistant nurse manager for Flight For Life Colorado, who joined several colleagues at the bill signing. “In order to operate an air ambulance in Colorado, currently the law says you have to have accreditation by a particular accrediting body. The problem is, there are provisions … that conflict with federal regulations.”

Huminek said the passing of the bills serves as a good reminder not to believe everything you hear. She said the notion that the past legislative session in Colorado was not fruitful simply is not true.

“This was one of many bipartisan bills I worked on this year,” she said. “I really do believe we got a lot of good things done this year, this past session, and it was really important to me to work with my colleagues across the aisle so we could together do some good work for Colorado.”

Another Republican, Congressman Mike Coffman, whose 6 District includes parts of Adams and Arapahoe counties, also lauded the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as a precursor to what he hopes will soon become a federal law.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the federal version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act so that women across the United States will never have to face pregnancy-related discrimination in the work place,” he said.

Coffman became the first Republican co-sponsor to the federal version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in June 2015.

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