Indiana pregnancy accommodation proposal unlikely to advance

Indiana legislators aren’t likely to revive a proposal aimed at requiring more businesses to provide workplace accommodations for pregnant women.

Gov. Eric Holcomb urged lawmakers to support the proposal, but it was rebuffed in the state Senate by his fellow Republicans earlier this month.

Republican Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said many questions remained among legislators as the bill faced opposition from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association as possibly exposing more businesses to lawsuits.

The proposal would have required Indiana businesses with more than 15 employees to allow pregnant women to take longer breaks, transfer to less physical work and take unpaid time off after childbirth. Some larger companies already provide pregnancy accommodations under federal regulations, and 27 other states have laws similar to Holcomb’s proposal.

Bosma said he talked with Holcomb after the governor pledged to keep pushing for lawmakers to approve the bill during this year’s short legislative session that ends in mid-March. Bosma, however, said the Republican-dominated House would go along with the Senate’s vote for sending the issue to a special study committee.

“In a short session in a major policy change that businesses have expressed a great deal of reservation about, it needs something more than the second half of a short session to look at, I think,” Bosma said.

Health advocates supported the proposal as a way of improving Indiana’s infant mortality rate, which was the country’s seventh-worst with about 600 infant deaths in 2017.

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