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Hannon bill passed by Legislature to require more notice on 'Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights'

ALBANY - A measure to make sure mothers are allowed to take breaks to pump breast milk while at work was approved by the Legislature this week among several bills. They include one that would strengthen the public's right to government records more promptly.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would still have to sign the bills into law, or he could veto them when he formally receives them in coming weeks.

Among the bills is a measure to alert mothers and their employers of the legal right of women to take reasonable, unpaid breaks at work in order to pump breast milk for up to three years after childbirth, according to the measure sponsored by Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and Assemb. Aileen Gunther (D-Middletown).

This is an update to the state's Breast-feeding Mothers' Bill of Rights, which was passed in the 1990s. The new measure requires that the rights be posted at women's health care facilities, nurseries and in hospitals.

"The feeling was there just wasn't enough notice," Hannon said in an interview Wednesday. He said if a woman is denied the right, the employer could face discrimination charges.

Another measure approved by the Senate and Assembly would require the governor's office and state agencies to respond more promptly to the public's request for government records under the state Freedom of Information Law.

The bill would reduce the time the state would have to file a notice of appeal if a court requires records sought under FOIL to be released, according to the sponsors, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) and Assemb. David Buchwald (D-White Plains). The state has had nine months to submit an appeal under the current law.

 Good-government groups including Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the New York Public Interest Research Group strongly support the measure.

The groups call on Cuomo to sign the law and note it has strong bipartisan support in the Legislature, which could override any veto.

Separately, Cuomo had proposed making the Legislature fully subject to FOIL. The Legislature has exempted itself from much of the post-Watergate law. Cuomo's proposal hasn't progressed in the Legislature.


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