Breast Milk, Student Loan Legislation Passes House Committee

The Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor committee passed legislation allowing rulemaking authority for the Department of Health for breast milk banks. Legislation on student loan default and occupational licensing was also approved.

HB1176 by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) would allow the Arkansas Department of Health to provide standards and rules on the implementation of milk banks and depositories in the state. Pilkington considered running legislating to set up state run milk banks but pulled that after discovering it would cost $1.5 million to set up plus ongoing costs.

Pilkington said he decided to propose the law after he saw someone on Facebook sharing and trading breast milk with others. His research then showed that other states have milk banks set up that provide milk to newborns in hospitals.

Stephanie Williams from the Department of Health testified that hospitals spend upwards of $100,000 a year to milk banks in other states to provide breast milk to newborns at places like children’s hospital.

The rules that the department of health would write under the law would later be reviewed and approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC). Rep. John Payton (R – Wilburn) expressed support for the legislation and encouraged those on ALC did not create rules that would stop the voluntary and private transfer of breast milk.

The committee also approved HB1296 by Rep. Austin McCollum (R – Bentonville) that would prohibit occupational licensing boards from revoking licenses based solely on a person being delinquent or in default on student loans. According to McCollum, the state of Tennessee had revoked 4,200 licenses based on a person’s student loan default or delinquency.

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