OKLAHOMA CITY—Hello, District 13! 

It’s been another busy week at the state Senate and I’d like to thank all my constituents who were at the Capitol to visit this week.

As legislators, one of the most important tasks we can do is to make laws that will promote the safety and well being of our children.  

One of my personal passions, and one of the reasons I wanted to be your state senator was to work on legislation to create a healthier Oklahoma. 

 A bill I authored this session seeks to promote a healthier Oklahoma by encouraging employers to allow working mothers who are breastfeeding their babies the opportunity to express their milk or feed their babies during unpaid leave time within their regular working hours.

This bill passed the Senate this week on a bi-partisan vote.

It will ensure that mothers who choose to breast feed their babies can continue to do so when they return to work.

This creates a healthier start in life for Oklahoma’s children.

The need for this bill is due to the fact that women are the fastest growing segment of today’s labor force.  At least one third of working mothers return to work at three months after the birth of their child.

Most stop breastfeeding, oftentimes due to lack of support in the workplace.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed the first six months of their lives and continue breastfeeding for at least the first year of their life.  Statistics show that breastfed babies lead healthier lives as adults, and are less likely to contract diabetes, respiratory infections, stomach infections, meningitis, and breast and cervical cancer.

Breastfeeding actually lowers health care costs an average of $400 per child.  It makes sense to enact laws that promote healthy activities, such as breastfeeding, that decrease the likelihood of our children contracting diseases.

Plus it lowers the overall cost of healthcare in the long run.

On the business side of the issue, employers that support breast-feeding mothers in the workplace report increased productivity, morale and employee retention, and reduced absenteeism.

Additionally for every $1 a business invests in breastfeeding mothers, they reap a $3 reduction in healthcare related costs.

This bill is a win-win for mothers and their babies and for the employers who hire them. 

I want to also update you on the progress of the Rx Oklahoma bill that I authored last year that provides free and reduced prescriptions to our citizens in need of this assistance.  The bill expanded the Norman pilot program statewide as of Dec. 1, 2005.

In its first three months, $22 million in free and reduced medications were provided to over 5000 people in our state.

I am so thankful for the assistance that our citizens are receiving from this program and I am honored to be a part of making this program available.

As your state senator, I will continue to work tirelessly to make our state a healthier place for Oklahomans to live, work and raise their families. 

Your health and the health of those you love are a critical part of leading a productive and happy life. 

Health issues are a vital part in making certain that futures remain bright in Oklahoma for generations to come.

Thanks for reading my “Senate Review.”

You may contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5541 or email me with your concerns at paddack@oksenate.gov

Thank you for the honor of being your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate.

May God bless you!