Would Apply to Public Places that Hold More than 25 People, Allow Children Over Age 3
To ensure that parents of small children have greater access to changing tables in public restrooms, a bill that would require baby diaper-changing stations in any newly constructed men’s or women’s public restrooms cleared the Assembly Women and Children’s Committee Thursday. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Pamela Lampitt and Carol Murphy.
The bill (A-3383) also would require places of public accommodation to install changing stations during restroom renovations costing $5,000 or more. In addition, the bill mandates that the owner or operator install a changing station in the men’s restroom if one is already included in the women’s restroom.
The legislation would apply to public places accommodating more than 25 people and permitting children over three years old. Violators would be subject to a petty disorderly person’s offense with a maximum fine of $500. The Department of Health and local boards of health would be authorized to enforce the bill which would take effect on the first day of the seventh month following enactment. The Commissioner of Health could take anticipatory administrative action prior to enactment should it be necessary to implement the act.
“Men are becoming more involved in the daily care of children,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “As such, our public facilities should reflect this changing dynamic and give them the same accommodations that women have.”
There currently is no state statute requiring places of public accommodation to equip public restrooms with changing stations, and the ones that do so voluntarily typically only offer the accommodation in women’s restrooms.
“This bill would provide greater access to changing stations for New Jersey families,” said Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden). “Child care is a joint responsibility for both parents, and public restrooms in New Jersey should provide parents, regardless of sex, with the proper facilities to care for their child.”
“As parental roles continue to evolve, this common sense approach puts the best interest of children first,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “Ensuring that both men and women have equal opportunity to care for children is critical to creating a more inclusive parental environment.”
The disparity gained national attention four years ago when celebrity dad Ashton Kutcher complained on Facebook about the lack of baby changing stations in men’s public restrooms. Since then, a Florida father has created a website called “Dads Who Change Diapers” which allows users to enter a zip code and find the nearest dad-friendly diaper changing station.
Looking to address growing concerns, President Barack Obama signed the “Bathroom Accessible in Every Situation Act (BABIES) in 2016 which requires both men’s and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings to contain baby changing stations. In October 2018, the U.S Senate passed a measure mandating changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms.
The Assembly bill was introduced in January 2018. It not awaits further review by the Assembly.