Two bills that aim to give men more access to diaper changing tables in public restrooms cleared a state Senate committee today.
Senate Bill 1358 by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, would require restaurants, movie theaters, shopping centers and other public venues to provide diaper changing tables in the restrooms for both men and women. It would also require state and local government buildings that are being constructed or renovated to put diaper changing tables in the bathrooms for both sexes.
Senate Bill 1350 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, takes a narrower approach. It wouldn't require retrofits of existing bathrooms, but says that if a business is installing a diaper changing table, it must be accessible to both men and women.
"It requires that public facilities for changing babies' diapers are equally available," Lara said.
The bill accommodates modern families, Lara argued, where men are taking ever-greater roles in child-rearing, and some children are growing up without mothers. Proponents of Wolk's bill said it would help parents by requiring more public changing tables so that they don't have to change diapers on dirty bathroom floors or struggle to try to do it on their laps while sitting in a toilet stall.
Both bills passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee with some bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Ted Gaines of Roseville remarked that when his twins were babies, he got diaper changing down to 18 seconds:
"But I can relate to what you're talking about in terms of where do you change a diaper in a public place?"
PHOTO: A baby has her diaper changed at a program for teenage parents at Chana High School in Auburn, May 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.