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Proposed bill would require changing stations for babies and adults in public restrooms

Posted at 10:04 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 00:45:55-05

PHOENIX, AZ — A diaper-changing dilemma will be front and center at the state capitol Thursday as a proposed bill aims to make life easier for parents in public restrooms.

"I've done it on a table, I've changed on grass, outside, I've opened the trunk of my car and changed them, inside the car trying to find the right angle," said Hannah Robbs, who has three young kids and knows how to improvise.

"I'll have my husband sit next to me and hold their head and change on my lap," said Robbs.

Still with her youngest, Clara, still in diapers the Mesa mom says family days out can present a challenge.

"I avoid some places that I know don't have changing tables," Robbs said. "It's really hard, especially for dads to find a place to change diapers. It's easier for moms but still, it's hard."

That's one reason Democratic Representative Richard Andrade is spearheading House Bill 2529, originally mandating any new building or existing restroom renovation over $10,000 include at least one baby diaper changing station on site. However, that was before he heard from parents like Marianne Scott.

"Every single day of our life, we have to figure out where and how this is going to happen and it's a challenge, it's a big challenge," said Scott, whose 17-year-old daughter, Maycee, has cerebral palsy. Her parents almost always have to change her on a public bathroom floor.

"It's pretty dehumanizing," said Scott.

Scott's persistence paid off. Just this week HB 2529 was amended to require a changing station that can serve both a baby and an adult up to 150 pounds. Small businesses would now be exempt because of the increased size and cost.

The bill has a ways to go but Robbs and Scott agree, it's worth a try.

"I don't think that any establishment should go without a changing table," said Robbs.

"When a family with a child with significant disabilities is going out, you really try to put your best foot forward because you want to be included in society and the community," said Scott.

The Health and Human Services Committee is set to discuss the bill Thursday morning. Several families are expected to testify, advocating for what they call, "dignified changes."