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Democrats outline plan to support newborn babies and families

May 24, 2022
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS – Today, Democrats outlined their plan to support newborn babies and families. Democrats’ comprehensive plan invests in families from the very beginning to ensure all babies have the resources they need to grow and thrive. 

The legislative package includes bills to: 

·         Eliminate the diaper tax;

·         Create the Infant Formula Tax Credit;

·         Establish the Ohio Safe Sleep and Baby Box Program;

·         Require insurance coverage of medically necessary donor human milk;

Create the Infant Nutrition Protection Act;
·         Enact the Ohio Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The plan to help ease everyday costs for families is more important than ever amid nationwide shortages for essential products, such as infant formula. 

“Wherever you come from and whatever your background, all Americans should have the opportunity to raise happy, healthy families,” said House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “While Republicans are focused on taking away your freedom to make reproductive healthcare decisions, Democrats have a plan to invest in our children, our families and our future. We will always put families first.”

Democrats proposed several immediate measures to address the infant formula shortage, including the Infant Nutrition Protection Act, sponsored by Reps. Shayla L. Davis (D-Garfield Heights) and Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) which would prohibit price-gouging during this crisis. 

“Empty shelves and high prices hurt families of all walks of life, but this shortage is especially painful for low income families, Black and brown families, and families whose babies have allergies or disabilities,” said Rep. Davis. “The Infant Nutrition Protection Act will ensure corporations cannot skyrocket prices to take advantage of anxious, vulnerable parents trying to feed their babies.”

“During a crisis like this one, it’s our job as legislators to step in and protect parents from any corporation willing to use a baby formula shortage to make a quick profit,” said Rep. Crossman. “Protecting the health and safety of our children must be our top priority.”

Meanwhile, Senate Bill (SB) 314, sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester) would require insurers to cover medically necessary donor milk and S. B. 177, the Ohio Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, would strengthen pregnancy accommodation and anti-discrimination standards, including the ability to breastfeed at work. 

“Supporting our babies is supporting the future of Ohio,” said Sen. Maharath. “We must do everything we can to set the next generation up for success and this starts with making sure all families have the resources they need to feed and care for their babies. I am proud to highlight the important legislation we are working on to support pregnant women and make essential nutrition for infants affordable for all families in Ohio.”

The Democratic plan also includes several solutions to reduce the costs of everyday expenses and provide essential resources to families. The Infant Formula Tax Credit, sponsored by Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) would create a one-time, $600 tax credit for families to cover infant formula expenses, while Rep. Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) is the sponsor of legislation to end the tax on diapers. 

“Every single parent deserves to feel secure about providing basic nutrition to their babies, not just today, not just tomorrow, but always. My proposed Infant Formula Tax Credit is a commonsense policy that will put $600 back into the pockets of working families, because baby formula is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Rep. Sweeney.

“As the mother of two children, I know very well how quickly the basic expenses of things like diapers add up. Eliminating the diaper tax is commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will put money back into the pockets of working families,” said Rep. Smith. 

The Ohio Safe Sleep and Baby Box Program, sponsored by Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) would allow parents who complete an online course on infant safe sleep practices to receive a Baby Box free of charge. A Baby Box is a bassinet-sized laminated cardboard box that is designed and sized to serve as an infant's safe sleep environment for the first six months of life. The Baby Box would be packaged with educational materials and essential items helpful to new and expecting parents such as diapers, baby wipes, and formula.

“If we’re serious about making sure our babies grow up to be healthy and strong, we must invest in our families from the beginning. Baby Boxes will ensure that Ohio families have the resources they need to keep their babies safe and healthy,” said Rep. Ingram. “It’s a simple solution that will save lives.”

The legislative package to support newborns is part of Democrats’ ongoing efforts to make Ohio a place where everyone can raise a family with safety and security. 

**EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch a recording of the press conference HERE